Thursday, August 17, 2006

People Are Strange When You're a Stranger

When I was a kid in elementary school, my bus stop was the driveway across the street from my house. My mom booted me out the door to wait for Mohansic Elementary #7, followed by Crompond Elementary #5, then Mildred E. Strang #11. I stood at the edge of the Snow's driveway, eyes still puffy, pancake crumbs shellacked to my face with syrup, and waited for the snore of diesel engine I could hear coming up the next block long before I saw headlights sweep around the corner.

Usually the routine was painful, but simple. Mom bellowed up the stairs, I didn't get up. Mom shrieked like a banshee again ten minutes later, I put on my clothes. I came downstairs and ate my microwave pancake, until middle school when this step was aborted because it was unspeakably lame to eat breakfast. I gathered the homework I pretended I'd done the night before, shoved everything into my backpack, put on a motherfucking stupid HAT if it was motherfucking stupid WINTER, and Mom shoved me outside.

After I crossed the lawn, then the street, I hit my mark on the big crack in the Snow's driveway and I was at school. It didn't matter that on warm spring mornings, when the windows to my house were open, I was close enough to home that I could still hear the TV in my living room. The driveway belonged to the world of school, the house to the world of home, and the crack was the equator between the two.

The times I forgot something and had to run back before the bus came felt supremely weird, like sticking your soapy finger in a bubble you've blown without popping it. I barged back into the house, frantic to find my gym pants, and often found my mother sitting in a different spot, watching a different channel (Mom watches Regis?), eating toast (We have marmalade?) and I was a visitor in a place I lived five minutes earlier. It always felt like a weird rewrite of my morning, not a comforting rerun, until I ran out the door again.

I still get that feeling occasionally, like when I come home from work earlier than expected, or I spot my brother walking through Grand Central before he sees me. Everyone I know is a stranger when I'm not around, and every place I know contains a disappearing island I can only visit for a few seconds at a time.

4 Comments:

Anonymous brad said...

and did you beat on, a boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past?

9:34 AM  
Blogger What'sHerFace said...

Ya, I TOTES did that 2.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Jessie said...

Really nice post, Kathy.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous anonymous mom said...

you totally captured the surreality of the life that goes on without you.

1:46 PM  

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