I never know how to start a journal entry, so I'll just start rambling...
Aral, my out-of-state sister came to town on Christmas night, truly surprising my mother, who had expected her sometime the following day. As usual, we visited, talking about disparate topics, eating, drinking, and eventually moving on to The Game. You know, the one where everyone brings a small or random gag gift, and then picks a number...that's always fun, as we unfurl the funny mystery presents and then vie for the best one. The person who picks lucky number one not only picks first (that's not such a big deal), but also gets to trade with anyone, once everyone has opened a gift.
This year, there was a leg lamp, a mooning gnome (perfect for your lawn on April 1st, in my opinion), a B movie about Elvis impersonators that sounds like a hoot, a funny bling clock, a travel cup, a pair of texting gloves, poo pouri (the things I learn from this crowd...), a yellow angry birds ear flap hat, and canned opossum roadkill meat. Mom found that gem of an appetite suppressant at a storytelling festival in Tennessee. My nieces, who are now well into their twenties, are still afraid of opening up anything Mom has contributed, and it's all about that Z cup bra Mom wrapped up, years and years ago. You see, no one but Mom knows where it is, and gifts that are rejected just might make an appearance....later on. Mom has a storied history, when it comes to wicked pranks, but I'll save that for another time.
And then I had to go back to work for two very tiring, hectic days. The day after Christmas, three (3) people called off. Enough said. Needless to say, this weekend was a bright and shiny oasis. Yesterday (Saturday), Aral and I met for coffee and then decided to take a walk around the ol' stomping grounds. It had turned into a beautiful day, and it's somehow more appealing and relaxing to talk while strolling around. Quite a lot has changed, really.
We visited the topic of our old elementary school, which is now closed. The building is so quaint, it seems a crying shame to raze it, and enough people feel this way that its future is uncertain. We went on to reminisce about things that happened in that building, and Aral particularly brought up my first year there, or my first half year there--I moved into the district in January. It was the third fourth grade class I'd attend, and I landed in the realm of Mrs. B, who became legendary for her behavior. On my very first day there, she paddled a boy in front of the entire class. I'll call this boy M. Mrs. B tortured M all year, and I cannot remember a single thing M ever did to deserve it. His parents were never around, never complained. Whenever my mother would come to the school, M's face would light up and he would greet her by name. Such a polite, charming boy. Mom would be very distressed to see him sitting on the floor of the hallway, copying paragraphs. When M was assigned to write for punishment, it was never mere sentences. M has always been a topic with all of us: Where were his parents? How did Mrs. B get away with this? And he wasn't the first to be abused. Parents had complained. My mother complained. Why were the adults so afraid of her? All the boys in the class took a big step away from him, too. M seemed to always have the nicest stuff, and he always shared. The boys in our class would certainly take advantage of this fact, but as soon as we were back in the classroom--he was shunned again. It was disgusting. Rich Girl told me that this was M's fault for allowing himself be used. His fault. M died young. I don't know what happened.
Even in good times, taking a rare walk with my sister, sad memories surface. Some people say that we can't appreciate the good without the bad, that acknowledging the contrast between hard times and happy ones is part of what makes us human. One thing is for certain: there are past events we all need to talk about, and I'm thankful to have that opportunity. And to admit that for me, that old elementary school may be a quaint building, but I do not particularly cherish any memories of my time inside it.
And today, Mike and I will play Scrabble before heading over to watch football with the rest of the family. I'm not sure who's popping up, but it'll be one of those elusive, fun evenings that make up the misty aura of contentment in my mind.
Ah, I always wish that the weekend were one day longer--to read more, enjoy more music, play one more game. Someday.