I Remember -- a story by Tiffany Cook

I Remember

by Tiffany Cook

Listen to Tiffany Cook Reading I Remember

I remember back when the clouds were shaped like bunnies and elephants, back when the cracks on the sidewalks really could break your mothers back. I remember times when the life of an ant was meaningless, yet vital to my joy. I remember when my mother’s picnics used to be a court-wide event. When all the kids would flock to the animal crackers and Kool-Aid like cockroaches to light. I remember.

I remember the light I felt daily, even when it seemed shadowy. I remember tents in the bedrooms with blankets, flashlights, and stuffed animals. It was when the reason to live was simply for the fun of it. Because you never know, maybe one day mom will change her mind and let you go in that back field where the grass is to your neck and play safari. It was when you argued with your sister, not because you hated her, but because she was there.

I remember the hand clapping games with my little sister Ashley, and our joy at how we were the fastest white girls in the neighborhood (we were the only white girls), the finger number game in Texas on good old Bucknell Ct., and then the mystery of two new arrivals: younger brothers. Kickball in the sunshine during recess, trying with all my might to make it the king/queen square in the 9 square court and continuing to wait in line for 25 minutes to roll the dice at my chance for 2 minutes of fame as queen of the 4 square court. Laughing softly with mom about something that only we could understand. Not to mention the funny looks received when passing as dad and I rolled down New Circle blaring Metallica out of a soccer mom mini van.

I remember the way Dad’s eyes twinkled when he brought home pizza from a pizza joint and he watched our faces light up. I remember the patience of a saint mom had with me when I was smaller, I remember sitting on the front porch with my baby brother Hunter, staring up at the leaves moving in the breeze while Ashley tried to coax the toad out of a pipe in our yard. We all knew it was there, we saw it come out when it rained, but it was as if it were magical, and could not be talked into coming out without the blessing of rain. I remember Shawn twisting himself up in the tree and looking at me with a wild-eyed, panic stricken joy that he had made it that high in the flimsy tree without mom catching him. I remember.

I remember a time when ladybugs were automatically girls, and grand daddy long legs were old men spiders. I remember when buying a sprinkler and a hose meant more hours of fun than a day at any pool. I remember the quiet of an early Saturday morning in spring, sitting on the drive in a lawn chair, just watching the clouds pass. I remember.

I remember the innocence of a question, back before movies took that away. I remember Animal Planet at 6 am; documentaries on the wild animals I dreamed of. I remember rides in the back of a Dunkin’ Donuts van, dad at the wheel, and being surrounded by donuts of every shape, size and filling. I remember the sleepiness wearing away at 4 am to take dad to work, because the streetlights played with me as we barreled down the interstate. I remember.

I remember elementary school, when it didn’t matter if you were Safety Patrol Captain or not, unless you got to the mulch first during recess, you still weren’t cool. I remember the snapping turtle that slowly but surely ambushed my picnic with Ashley and my second brother Shawn, and I remember the devastation when I couldn’t keep it.

I recall my head always resting on mom’s stomach, never REALLY able to believe that it was Hunter in there. I remember the thrilling rush when derby began and the flutter of excitement when the gates crashed open; not hoping my horse would win, but feeding off the buzz of the others in the tightly packed house.

I remember the wind in my face, whipping through every pore as I raced down the steep decline by my favorite park in Texas. I remember releasing both my handlebars to freefall down the hill and into the tight turn, feeling the charge until I was sure I could make it.

I remember good things a lot, and sometimes they mingle with frustration. I remember my blackboard nailed to the huge old tree in our front yard, and mom trying to will me to understand division and memorize my multiplication tables; I remember  that I wasn’t able to comprehend them, they didn’t make any sense to me. At which time I am reminded that they still don’t.