Thursday, April 26, 2007

Summertime at the Lake

My old journals were supposed to provide fodder for my book. So far, they haven’t been up to scratch.

5.8.97
"Used Furniture
Prescription popping on a Sunday afternoon
Watching New Hampshire public TV
Wearing an ex-boyfriend’s underwear"

See what I mean?

Here’s an exerpt I like far better from 4.14.99:

“I’m sitting in my bedroom atop my headboard-less queen-sized bed. A picture of my sister’s wedding day looks down on me from above the heating thingamajig thermostat. Tucked into the corner of the silver and gold frame is a stunning summertime picture of my sister at Camp Fatima.
We were in a swampy part of Lake Suncook in backwoods New Hampshire when I snapped the photo. Every Labor Day weekend my parents whisked me and my sister off to Camp Fatima with their fellow Knights of Columbus volunteers and friends for a long weekend of camp fires, singed hot dogs and Bingo games that went on and on until midnight.

My sister, Dena, and I would bundle up for the brisk night and walk down to the docks to meet our once-a-year-every-year for as far back as we could remember friends. We hid in the bushes to smoke cigarettes and played pass-out near the lake’s moonlit edge.

Dena’s honey-wheat hair is long in the photo, long enough to kiss her deep tanned shoulders. Her infectious smile opens across her face like a birthday present. There, in a slow going canoe on Lake Suncook, Dena is the most beautiful girl in the world. I can’t remember but I think she was 17 or 18 at the time. The wild, silly spirit passed down from our wonderfully-young-at-heart mom frozen on photo paper.

The cool blue lake water reflects off her salmon blush dusted cheeks and she is alive in that moment once again.

I miss the densely packed forests of New Hampshire. Out here in L.A. it’s suffocating. Miles of concrete spill out to form a rigid grid street layout beneath the smog and all its carcinogenic particulate matter.
There’s a painting of cottage on the calendar on my wall. It’s the month of April and I want that damn cottage for my own right now. I want to be in its small kitchen, frying bacon and tossing crepes in a heavy cast iron pan like my mother’s. I like the slight chimney poking out from the cottage’s thatched roof. I don’t know what Monet meant by that roof. A great mass of dots, clumped all together to articulate what I wish for: open space but closer still to my family.

I see myself older and independent in Monet’s cottage with long salt and pepper hair pulled back into a ponytail. I want to be wise and well read, with great taste in gourmet food, especially pies, cakes and other sugary desserts. I’d like my parents to still be around when I’m old. I could grow old with my dad, sparring with him as usual over some great, big topic we would inevitably disagree on.

Living in the moment, throwing caution to the wind and smoking. That’s what I’ll like, even when I’m old. My dad and I will bicker and nudge each other with verbal barbs rolling off our tongues until someone says something hurtful that sticks like gum and won’t be pried off.

I wish I could borrow, or even keep, the house on the hill of grass in Dunbarton, New Hampshire, my aunt and uncle’s house. It should be all mine for a weekend at least. My closest cousins lived there. Maybe they still do.

My eyes are getting heavy with sleep but I keep seeing my sister. A random symphony orchestra streams out of my square clock radio. A macho build up in the song winds down to weepy oboes and violins. Their cries are so faint now I can hardly hear them tip toe. The triangle’s ding distracts, brings attention to itself and steals a moment from the rest of the tune. It’s unpleasant, like the sound of ringing in my ear. Repeating itself over and over, forecasting a headache. I wish they’d leave the brass out of this symphony. I can’t help but associate the saxophone with a sexy duet between lovers or a stripper slipping out of her clothes. Who even knows if it’s a saxophone at all? What do I know about the symphony? Shoot. It’s a trumpet. Duh. Something even more wretched to my ears. Off the bed. Off with their heads.

Good night. Bonne nuit. Je t’aime beaucoup. Just like mom said when she tucked us in.”

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5 Comments:

At 9:26 PM, Blogger JerZ Craz Mom said...

Ms. Slackstress,
Thank you for bringing back some old end-of-summer memories. I, too, remember those Knights of Columbus weekends at Camp Fatima. I remember fishing in the lake for rainbow trout, pine needles in the bon fire to keep the mosquitoes away, a bottle of Southern Comfort tucked away and snuck over to the shore of said lake. Most of all, I remember sleeping with the spiders and such. Thanks for making a few tears snake their way down my cheeks as I remember our youth and friendship.
Your oldest friend, Cyndi

 
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