I’m not doing the work of writing my memoir this morning. I know I will regret it later; I’m already regretting it. My left ear is clogged up and I don’t have much energy this morning. I think I’m still tired from yesterday’s activities.
I drove up to my old home town yesterday to do some research for the memoir. It wasn’t entirely satisfying; things didn’t go the way I had planned and the city looks completely different then I remember. Yes, I know it’s been 35 years so that is to be expected. Even the address of my former home has changed! The most disappointing detail is that “my tree” is gone, the one that always stood by the road in my front yard. I checked Google Street View many times and the tree was still there. The shots must be old because yesterday I found no tree but a raised up landscape bed that artfully attempted to hide the stump. The plantings looked established, as though they’d been there a while. One of the things I’d wanted to do was take a picture of me standing by the tree. It was meaningful to me as a child and shocking to see that it was gone. So that sucked.
I went back to Google and found the image I’d seen recently and noticed it was dated from June 2013. The tree looked unhealthy, so my guess is that it either fell or the owners had it cut down. Maybe it was a laurel oak; those have a lifespan of only about fifty years. Come to think of it, my tree must have been about the same age as me. When I was 12, I stood by that tree and a thought occurred to me: I am twelve. I will remember this. I always have remembered that moment. Now I’m thinking maybe the tree was speaking that thought to me.
While I was in the neighborhood I drove by my old boyfriend’s house, where my mother dropped me off in 1979 and I was homeless. His former home looked more familiar to me than my own; I think it had changed less. There were dozens of cars parked in the driveway and up the street to the corner. We decided there was a party going on in the home. I wondered about my old boyfriend’s parents, if they were still alive and living there. I could see that the partygoers were mostly senior citizens.
After that, we went by Lyman High School and Milwee Middle School, both places I attended. I made an interesting realization: I remember a lot about Milwee and not so much about Lyman. I was in trauma mode from the age of about 14 on and I’ve blocked a lot of things out of my reachable memory. We were able to drive down a side road and see the bleachers and the soccer field and the swimming pool – all these things I remember quite well. My old boyfriend was on the soccer team; I had a brief stint on the swim team, and we hung around under the bleachers. That was where you could smoke: cigarettes and otherwise; the administration turned a blind eye.
Finally, we went to Sanford Courthouse to search the records for some evidence that I really had been declared an emancipated minor when I was sixteen and my parents split up. I couldn’t find anything about that, though we were able to track down my parents final divorce decree. The papers specifically mentioned the custody and child support arrangements for my younger sister, but I was not mentioned at all. This seems to support the idea that I had been emancipated (against my will, mind you), but at the same time, the lack of paperwork to support that makes me think that perhaps they just never filed the motion. The recorded divorce date was January 29, 1980. My father had already moved on at that point, living in Indiantown with the woman who was pregnant with his child.
I think I’m going back to bed.