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Rated: E · Essay · Personal · #2314436
Glimpses of memories behind the curtains of our many pasts
It seems odd to me that I have no enduring memories of Summers in their relative entirety until my preadolescent years. Of course, for my brother and me there were no summer camps or vacations or schedules; that may have been part of the reason. But I recall certain bits, disconnected from each other, uncertain in time.

They are bits of summers I remember from when I was Young, and they blink in my mind like the fireflies of those early nights. Let me use these next few pages as my jar and catch these tiny sparks of lightning for a little while. I promise to open the lid when I'm done and let them fly away if they want to...

Route 8

"Where's this 'Route 8?'" I remember asking, trying to add the skeptical disdain I heard my father use whenever he was unfamiliar with something or dubious about it.

Dad had told us we would all be going out to some Park on Route 8 for the big night. "Where's this 'Route 8?'" In my memory, I ask it over and over again, trying to sound... relevant, I guess. I don't know if I actually said it as many times as I seem to recall, but it must have been more than once or twice. I certainly said it enough that it annoyed my brother.

I still wonder just where 'Route 8' was, exactly--somewhere in southwestern Ohio is the best I've ever been able to figure, probably not that far from where we lived, yet far beyond my ken at that age. But I DO know what was there, on Route 8: Fireworks!

It was the fourth of July, and we were going out to watch fireworks! It felt exotic and adventurous because my father rarely took us anywhere. He drank a lot (I know now), and he was dissatisfied with his marriage; my mother annoyed him, and I think Tom and I did, too, in spite of his efforts to feel otherwise. So when we all went somewhere, it was something unusual, and it was exciting, even a little frightening, for me.

I sat to the left of my mother when we got there, with my brother and some other now-faceless kids. Dad sat on Mom's right, and next to him sat Lee, his friend's wife. (I guess his friend, Tom, was there as well, but I have no memory of him.) I watched the display and goofed around and chattered to nobody in particular.

During a particularly exciting part of the show, some hot ashes and firework debris drifted down and landed on Lee, stinging her skin, but not really injuring her. She made quite a fuss, though, within our little bubble, and my father was very solicitous--VERY solicitous. His behavior made sense to me-- my daddy worked on the ambulance, so of course he would see if the woman had been burned and make her all better.

My mother, however, saw much more, and more clearly than my young eyes did, and she was hurt by my father's attentions to the other woman. She grew querulous, and there was tension. Not an uproar or even a fight, I don't think... But thick, silent tension. I was a fairly fidgety child (diagnosed in my adult years with ADHD, although at the time of the fireworks show, my parents unequivocally scoffed at psychology of any sort), and my restlessness aggravated their unsettled adult emotions, and they were brusque with me. They were not mean or cruel, but impatient and distant.

Because I didn't understand, the disturbed emotional atmosphere seemed to turn the entire occasion subtly sinister and unsafe, and it made me wary. I remember that it spoiled what would otherwise have been an incredible night for me.

Some time later--weeks? months? a year?--my father's friend, Tom, caught Dad in bed with Lee. I guess Mom had understood that, beneath those fireworks, more than just a boy's summer night was being spoiled in that mysterious realm of Route 8.

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