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Old 06-04-2012, 03:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Songs That Remind Me of Childhood - Part 1/5

Kansas - Dust in the Wind


Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see


If I had heard this song for the first time today I would most likely reject it or write it off as another cliché piece of shit based on this stanza alone. I mean really, "just a drop of water in an endless sea?" What a ridiculously easy metaphor to express the idea of human mortality. It's unoriginal, it's cheap, it lacks imagination. But today was not the first time I heard this song, the first time I heard this song I completely ate it up. As I grew older I came to realize the cheesiness that is embodied within, but as a child this was the first piece of music I remember having an intense emotional connection with.

In sixth grade (age 12) my best friend’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. In May of the following year she passed away. It was my first experience with death - no one close to me at this point had ever been seriously ill or even hurt, let alone died. I grew up in an extremely small, extremely religious town in the Midwest and as far as I knew only bad people died and those people went to Hell. I never thought it possible that someone who was good... who was really a positive, lighthearted, beautiful person would die so young without justification.

As most children do at that age I kept a diary. I remember explicitly writing many pages pertaining to Lynn and my deep hope for her recovery. About a month before her death I wrote an entry in which I said something along the lines of: “I don’t understand why God, if he is so good, would take away Carly’s mother when Carly needs her so much. Lynn will never help Carly get ready for her first prom, she won’t be there to take pictures of our 8th grade promotion ceremony, won’t see Carly graduate, won’t be there to dance at Carly’s wedding, won’t be able to help Carly through all the things a girl our age needs help with. God, please, let me take Lynn’s place. Let me die instead of her, Carly shouldn’t have to lose her mother.”

I meant every word that I had written. I prayed to God every night that in the morning I would wake up with Lynn's cancer. I prayed with every ounce of my being that the cancer would leave Lynn and move into my body so that she could go on raising her children. I didn't necessarily want to die, but I sincerely thought that it would be better for me, a snot nosed, socially awkward seventh grader to die from cancer than a genuinely amazing woman with four young children to raise.

My father, in all his patriarchal macho-ness, often searched through our house for hidden diaries (of which I had several), which upon finding he would use to discipline me and my sister.

I remember walking through the main hall of my middle school one day after class, and I noticed he was standing at the front office, his elbows resting casually on the counter. When I approached him he was laughing at some joke that was surely just shared between him and the secretary. When he saw me giving him a quizzical look he quickly said “Time for your dentist appointment.”

“I didn’t know I had a dentist appointment.”

“Your mother must have forgotten to tell you.”

After returning to my locker to gather my backpack, I followed him out of the front doors of the school, an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew I had done something wrong, my family never had dentist appointments. My parents didn't believe in doctors, or, if nothing else, couldn't afford health care. I knew he was lying but I couldn’t possibly guess what his real motives were. I knew I was in trouble but I didn't know why (which, unfortunately, could very well be said for much of my childhood).

We walked the block back to our house in silence, my father remaining a consistent five paces ahead of me, obviously agitated with some wrongdoing of mine. When we reached the front door, I began to shrug off my backpack when my father landed a hard slap across my face.

“What?! What?!” I cried out. He didn’t answer. He took a handful of my hair and dragged me from the entryway into our living room. Once he released his grasp I fell to the floor, sobbing. “What did I do?! What did I do?!”

“So you want to die?” he spat. I looked at him in bewilderment, genuinely confused. “You think that you should die for Lynn fucking Hagert?” I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how he could have found my diary; I thought that this time I had hidden it so well. But as he was unemployed, I suppose now that my father had plenty of time to search the space of my room for evidence of my disloyalty to his namesake.

“Dad, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it!” Another slap silenced me.

“If you really want to die just take my fucking shotgun, go to the woods and do it yourself. I’ll fucking drive you.”

He was pointing East. East toward Horse Creek. East toward the direction of my favorite childhood camping spot. East… the direction I drove five years later at 17 when I was intent on committing suicide. East. The direction that meant mortality, the direction that meant death. East. The direction that the wind blew, the direction in which you turned to dust. EAST. The direction I will actively avoid for the rest of my life.
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