The last five days were spent in a Colorado mountain valley, several thousand feet above sea level where nothing grows because nothing can. Thin mountain air made it impossible to sleep, and so did a sickly toddler. Night after night, in my sleepless sleep, I lay under the stars thinking of this home, or my once-was-home that I'd left nearly 20 years ago.
Here's some of what I remember:
1) I'm in my father's five-car garage next to a mostly unused ping pong table. I'm back from our annual east coast summer adventure. My friend Mindy comes to visit. She's more womanly than she was when I left two months before. She's wearing a black miniskirt and sings Do Me Baby while gyrating. I feel small and maladroit next to her beauty.
2) My friend Dawn and I are smoking a cigarette on the porch of a condo that our friends Mike and Eric live in. The window is open. I hear Mike say I'm going to fuck Felicia. I storm inside, laughing, grab his bag of weed and split.
3) It's 9:30pm. I'm headed downstairs after school, after homework, after cooking and cleaning the kitchen. As I reach the last stair, my father yells my first and middle names. Felicia Marie! I walk back upstairs. He shows me a small smudge I've left on the counter. This happens every night.
4) My friend Monica and I are parked in her Chevy Celebrity in front of the rodeo grounds. We are listening to the Pixies and smoking a joint. A cop knocks on the window. We toss the joint in a bottle of Mountain Dew.
5) I smoke my first cigarette with some rather trashy brothers who both wear no underwear under meticulously shredded jeans. We listen to Head Like a Hole on repeat. I throw up the 7-11 hotdog I'd eaten for breakfast.
6) I pretend to be Polish each time I am forced to sit with strangers on the chairlift. They ask me what it's like in Poland. I say Varrey Could.
7) I'm writing my first novel in 7th grade English class. It's absurdly sexual and involves two teenagers at a tennis match. My teacher confiscates my notebook and sends me to the principle's office.
8) A boy named Brian asks me to the 6th grade dance. I'm thrilled and uncomfortable, so I don't really say anything. He starts to laugh. Just kidding, he says.
9) It's dark. I'm in my friend Brad's VW van. He's talking about New Orleans. I'm relieved he's from somewhere else. We listen to The White Album and stare at the tangle of stars above our heads.
10) I'm drunk for the second time in my life. An older boy named Seth pulls down his pants and attempts to shove his penis in my mouth. I tell him no. He says Suck it or I'll drown you in the River. I clench my jaw so he can't force himself in. He takes my head and holds it under water.