The Dark Side of Mildred’s Mountain series – Angel book 2 beginning with the POP! Goes Alaska letters – chapter 21
21. My first school days
April 2, 2013. Having had the spell of my own muse broken by the unkindness of Mother’s written statements in her letters about my grade school self, in combination with the questionably motivated notes teachers wrote on the back of my report cards I found in the collection of her papers, how can I include what used to be my recollection of first grade without having my perspective contaminated with such condemning contradictions? Why does it matter to me that Mildred’s version smashed to smithereens what used to be my glowing sense of myself being safe if not loved in my school womb without Mother in it?
Of course nobody made me keep and read Mother’s letters. I went down that dark road all by myself. Why did I choose to open all those nasty doors, anyway? I changed the course of my life in significant ways by doing so. What was I looking for? Certainly not my own redemption.
Or was I? Am I even now trying to resurrect my own pristine little self out of the ruined landscape of a childhood preserved in tomes Mother wrote and left behind her scattered in worn boxes beaten up and broken by the years of her life?
Am I attempting to glue together the wreckage of some sunken family Titanic saga told through the biased mind of my psychotically mentally ill Mother? Do I search instead for a treasure held not in some clever chest as my child mother placed it in her child stories intact and waiting at the bottom of a shallow sea but rather scattered to the currents that have moved and shifted fragments of my story so that I can locate only those parts I wish to keep?
Are my pieces and parts of childhood luminescent? Do they stand out for me because they are good or because they are mine? Am I willing to grant innocence and purity only to myself until I reached a certain age – and then what? Is there a natural component to being a child that issues protection against the onset of inner malice?
Perhaps I ask these questions with a backward application simply because all evil even as being the devil’s child stole from me all absence of malice in the mind of Mother who scorned all that I was and all, in her mind, that I “stood for.” What greatness of intent was I granted in her mind that even in the womb I intended to kill her? What extent of inner scarring do I carry and to what extent have I been spared?
How could such a malicious conspiracy envelop and contain an infant, a preschooler, a school-aged child? Where was I in this gut twisting, stomach churning, bile producing scheme of such great and, yes, terrible madness?
What little socks did I have on my feet as I slipped into my school-bound shoes on the first day I entered the soft golden glow of my first grade classroom? Did Mother drive us to Chugiak that day or did John and I stretch out our short legs to climb the rubber coated steps into our first yellow school bus?
I can see the long wall black chalkboard with the tray underneath it holding chalk and erasers running along the end of my classroom. High above it ran a long yellow sheet of paper with all of the letters of the alphabet printed on it. How exciting! Big letters. Little letters. Even some numbers at the far right end where one room merged into another one if you went up a few steps. Oh, the wondrous mystery of it all! A future of learning had begun for me.
A room full of resplendence, of anticipation filled with warm hope of discovery of things I knew nothing about – but soon would. Going to school. All I had to do was go to school and every day another door would open in my mind so I could know something I had not known just one second earlier.
I ate up learning as if I was starving to death. Maybe my hope and wonder and enthusiasm had nothing to do with the contents of my first grade curriculum. Maybe I was finally simply momentarily granted freedom from oppression so that I could afford to be that hungry and fortunate enough to find what my teacher taught me insatiably satisfying to me.
My first snowfall
I would have lingered there within that great room with its wall of high picture windows that faced a long hill covered with trees as long as I could. At first the leaves were golden. Next they were gone. And then it snowed! And when it began I was caught in a spell of eternity. As if I was drawn by a magnet I got up from my desk, pulled by my eyes following giant snowflakes slowly tumbling down from the sky. I was witnessing “forever.”
Of all the beauty I have seen in my life none has ever captured my attention again in such a mesmerizing fashion. Hypnotized. There are moments in life when all of a sudden everything else disappears so that all there is left is the stillness of a perfect blessed peace. Those are our matchless moments.
Surprisingly tears well in my eyes as I write these words. Nobody alive, certainly not a battered child, can ever get enough of that peace. I would almost call it a kind of magical death for me as I stood in front of that window.
All else I had ever known vanished. I was surrounded by the kind of quiet that taps itself so tenderly, so gently and softly and warmly into a person that in those moments nothing else can possibly matter.
Oh, how much I needed that solace. Oh, what a great use I have made of those few special moments all of my life. The ground soon disappeared under a blanket of whiteness. Dimly the tall grey-brown trunks of the trees on the hill disappeared in whiteness, as well. All that was left in the world was me watching snowflakes drifting down as if they could never stop.
I grant a great sense of kindness in my teacher who herself probably knew of the great powers Alaska has to comfort and to heal people. She probably had no more of such thoughts in those moments than I did, yet her gift to me was that she did not stop me. She did not interfere. She did not speak to me or reach out to touch me even though after a while I knew she was standing a little ways behind my right shoulder.
I bet she was watching snow, too. When a person watches in that way there are no words anywhere around. That is a big part of the peace.
I stood there until the bell rang and it was time to go home.
Trauma power in a word
All of my life since the afternoon I witnessed my first snowfall and felt such an impact of beauty I have been able to let myself be drawn away from my little desk again to stand in front of that big window. What I have now is the place in the time line of my childhood as it has been constructed through the context provided in Mother’s letters that told me where it belongs. Claiming my life must be important to me because that is what I am doing now as if the act of doing so can give me the clearest sense of myself I have ever known.
I have never in my memory lived my life being soley aware of the misery present in my life as a child. I am aware that the great contrast between my suffering and my bright spots of bliss sharpened my need to keep my own inner light alive and shining back to me in brilliance. Perhaps this choice of keeping my own inner balance is connected to why I can so clearly see the physical lights suspended from the ceiling in my first grade classroom.
There were three concentric circles of wide metal gray bands surrounding each large globe. These reflectors sent the light out into all the corners of the room. There was nothing I could not see. I guess I must have spent a lot of time just looking around me. I liked being there. I liked everything about my class except for one thing.
Someone else must have come into our class to help my teacher when it was reading circle time. I can’t see that person but I can see the picture in the book she was holding up so we could see the pictures in it. I was sitting in a little chair next to other children in my class, but the group was not large so half of my classmates must have been in a different group.
My back was facing the heavy wooden door of the bathroom in our class. I remember the shock that went through my body as I was electrocuted with horror as the word in the book were read that I KNEW should NEVER be spoken in front of anybody else. “The bell on the collar of the little goat tinkled as he ran away.”
TINKLED? I would have cut myself up into little pieces before I would have ever spoken that word out loud to anyone. Although the jolt of horror I felt when I heard it inside my classroom remains crystal clear in my memory I would not want to know how Mother had set me up for that reaction. At that moment I felt as if she was right there in that room standing in front of me – MAD!
Obviously there was something terribly wrong with the traumatic association I had between the word “tinkle” and the bodily function it described in Mother’s vocabulary so that this remains one of my clearest childhood memories 55 years later. That first grade traumatic reaction and my memory of it are both connected to a dissociated gateway into hell that cannot be safely opened. I believe I have thousands and thousands of these gateways. There are very few of them open to me so that I can look inside. Of these few I will write and there are enough of them to tell my story. I need know no more.
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