William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

5. Memories

Written last night.

Darkness is closing in. When I was young I was probably afraid to walk outside alone at night. If I was discouraged, I probably didn't need it. Definitely not here. I heard the stories of bears and coyotes.

But as I lay in bed trying to put my single-digit-aged self to sleep, what really spooked me was the idea of a forest fire, especially here in a house that was surrounded by thick woods. There were all kinds of ads on TV about it, and they scared the crap out of me*. Remember the one with the melted radio? And Smokey was sometimes there to say that it was all my fault. I never asked for the responsibility!

* - Another ad that scared me was one from Revenue Canada about making sure your marriage is on-paper legit so that you don't miss out on potential benefits. This dude's wife just disappears and he's looking in a dark closet going "Martha? Martha?" Perhaps it made me feel like people could just randomly disappear. Maybe someone would do that to the girl I was sweet on. No, actually, I kind of did that to her.

I spent my days playing with toy cars - the house was filled with all kinds of fun places to use them, like a railing that had a twist in it, or steps to the next floor that poked out a little under the ceiling of the originating floor. There were also cool spaces outside, like on the railings of the secondary steps or the top of the concrete retaining wall in front of the basement below. A lot of houses lack important quirks like these. This house is certainly one of a kind in that respect.

On Sundays, I went to church. This was great because not only was the church itself interesting, with a balcony and a sloped theatre-style floor, but as a kid I had a licence to say whatever I wanted. I was only 4, and already I was able to do a put-upon act that made everyone laugh as I "reluctantly" came up to the front pew for Children's Time (frequently I was the only ambulatory kid in the congregation, hence the put-upon business). It was comedy gold every week. It probably went over much better here than in PEI because here my parents were seldom around (this was critical for my mental health, and I knew it - I sought every opportunity to be away from them).

There was also Vacation Bible School. I experienced it in other places too, but the first time may have been here. Since school was out for the summer, we were in the school buildings on the hill. The only things I really liked about it were the snack times and the unstructured playing that sometimes happened when people were waiting to be picked up. The elders teaching the classes were probably close friends with my grandparents (doing VBS here again later on in my childhood, I believe I befriended one teacher in particular, and I'll tell that story later though I can't remember much else other than my father and I dropping by her house, but I think it was the same day that I had another formative experience involving a dog), and they were probably like the 60-year-old-in-the-80s equivalent of "WTH is up with this grandkid of theirs?" Basically one day they wanted my group to make Snoopys out of Styrofoam cups. But I knew that you could make a crude "telephone" out of a Stryofoam cup and I wanted to try that instead. But we're making Snoopys. But I want to make a telephone. It ended in tears. My willingness to "get with the program" (especially just for its own sake) did not appreciably increase over the years since. I suppose that's one thing I can be proud of.

Okay, I'll tell the dog story now. I'm probably 10. My dad and I were walking around the village, and we stopped in to see this person I knew through VBS. Then we started to walk back to the house, but I figured we could go the back way - through the woods by the lake. (I still want to check out this path and see if it still exists. I loved it, but right now there is a lot of water making the part from this driveway down to the village impassible. Maybe next time I'll walk up Restoration Drive* and check it out.) There are several ways to get to the path - by the fish ladder, or at the end of Restoration Drive, or walk on a driveway beside the convenience store. I chose the third option, it was closest.

* - So named because they relocated people there when they made a museum out of a great chunk of the village - this was in 1970, I think.

So I am walking this way and CHOMP the store owner's golden lab almost tears a chunk out of my rear end. No warning whatsoever - or I suppose the deep bite was the warning. Traumatic much? I was done with dogs for years! So I'm still far from the house, and we have to get back up there because it's probably shorter than walking to the hospital and then potentially having to walk all the way back. So we have one long painful tearful walk back here, and then we drive to the hospital (boy, lucky to have one, huh?).

And coming in to the hospital, I see some people on the steps. I kind of half-jokingly said, "This had better not be on Rescue 911!" but I did it without mirth and Dad scolded me. I don't know what I was trying to accomplish there. I was on the defensive all the time. That, unfortunately, did not appreciably decrease over the years since; not until just a few years ago, if then.

The doctor treated my wound (no stitches were needed, though, so it wasn't too serious) and I had a big dressing on my butt for what seemed like weeks. It needed daily mortifying inspections. On the first night I played games at the kitchen table with the big folks while sitting on a wooden chair without cushions. I sure felt it the next morning! I was a cushion-seeker for a long while after that.

* * *

I'm almost glad there are next-to-no girls here. When they're around, I only tend to think about them and how I can gain favour in their eyes. (I'm starting to wonder if gender-segregated classes weren't the worst idea ever. But boys might not really be all that great about learning anyway, so they might as well have the influence of the girls who always seem to know what's going on.) Since I'm in physical and e-solitude so much, I just do a lot of thinking. In this way I am not particularly special - I think most people would find thought in solitude, though our experiences and makeup might sometimes lead us to different conclusions from the thinking, and that's OK.

I went to the library today to check my messages, and it didn't take me nearly as long as I'd hoped. The first few times I was shocked at how little I was missed. Now I just find myself feeling lonely and looking forlornly at the Chat box in Facebook - anyone on there I have a chance with? Typing hurts or is wearisome enough that I don't usually initiate conversations with folks that I don't want to, um, get to Know better, but I talk back when I'm spoken to. Those of you who do, keep doing it - it's welcome. Anyway, I was just overwhelmed with the feeling that I was wasting my time. My life is too precious to waste anymore. It's addictive to be a node on the neural net for a while, but I think I might need to make this vacation permanent. (I could never climb to the top of the heap and say, "I win at Internet!" and it was killing me.) We'll see what happens when I get back to school, and see how long I can resist checking my Twitter and Facebook homefeeds. I got a 98.0% average having all those things running almost all the time, so at least it didn't hurt my grades much.
Tags: sherbrooke, summer 2012

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