My boss was eating a tuna fish sandwich yesterday and that smell punched me in the face with memories. I ate or threw one of those out on a weekly basis in elementary school. As part of lunches I made myself because in like Grade 4, I told my Mom enough. Enough with the English muffin with jam sandwiches when I had expressed the two things I hated in life (more than raw carrots even), were English muffins and jam. (I still loathe & gag on raw carrots, jam wormed its way back into my heart and English muffins are not a friend of a celiac). From now on I would now be making my lunch and Koleman’s lunch. Period.
Back then we lived in a tiny red bungalow in Ocean Park, a hefty one-hour walk from our elementary school. This walk gave me plenty of time to a) read while walking b) act while walking c) turn around and yell at Prince Lollygag “HURRY! UP!”
The winter days were the worst, your legs turned into jean popsicles, wishing so intently for a fur coat, something that I knew nothing about but figured it was the warmest article of clothing known to man.
One morning, about six feet in front of me, a bird sat down on the wrong wire, came thudding down to the sidewalk and created a spark flash that made me jump back. Koleman, always in the back, came thundering up behind me, and just as an elderly couple passed us, exclaimed, “Holy shit, did you see that?” Him – 5 years old, that baby white hair fading to brown, knapsack half off his shoulders, red Traxx sweatpants, navy blue velcroed shoes, dirty nose and jacket half unzipped even in the middle of winter. It was pretty amazing.
Another time Koleman was whipping around his lunch in a plastic bag, and let it go flying into a bush, making the juice box explode all over everything. We raced back home and I called Mama at work. (This must have been in some fit of irrational juices, because she was NOT to be disturbed at work unless we were cradling a limb that had been sheared off.) I expected some kind of miracle solution, but got, “Make a new lunch and hurry up.” I hung up deflated.
We had a crazy half lab-half-shepherd dog for a few months, and most mornings were spent chasing him around the yard when he got out. I remember him streaking by in a black blur and getting two hands on him as he oozed right through my fingers. We would finally get him back in with some careful treat trickery, then I would get to school and smell my hands. Oh, the musk! That particular smell of dog that is so pungent and identifiable.
Some magical days Mama would be off early and would come careening into the gravel shoulder with a honk, and oh man we would RUN to the car, so grateful for the ride.
That walk didn’t keep me healthy or at a proper weight (the shit we ate when we got home successfully negated all that exercise). We missed probably very fun and funny tv shows that aired at 3 pm. We were little mini adults grumbling and stomping every day for two hours.
My first year of high school we realized there was a bus route that ran a few blocks from our house to right across the street from the school. And that fact is the reason the term FML exists.