Notes to Self

by DL Minor

Notes To Self

  • vine tomatoes
  • white potatoes
  • red onions
  • green pepper
  • chips? shouldn't. probably will. undecided.
  • dessert of some kind. ice cream? make a pie? (fat chance)
  • steak. Yeah I know, but I want it. hot dogs. I don’t care; sick to death of chicken.
  • hot dog buns
  • 100% whole wheat whole grain bread (see? see? I'm not totally hopeless)
  • paper products: napkins, toilet paper, foil
  • pepper
  • salt
  • sugar
  • whatever else

        The day is getting away from me again (why does it do that? annoying); I should have started this earlier. The store is going to be a madhouse if I wait much longer; I should have followed my first mind and done the shopping this morning. Maybe I can shop on my lunch hour tomorr--no, girl. Don't do that. Don't even go there.

        Beautiful, sunny day: If I didn’t know better I’d think it was 82 degrees out there—the lake is an incredible paint-box blue. I should definitely head out and get some of that, whether I shop or not.

        Days that look like this make me long for spring, a wonderful time to be alive when I was school age, especially those elementary school years. Everything was green and the weather was nearly perfect--not as cold as it had been, not as hot as it was going to be--schoolwork was winding down, and teachers, happily anticipating their summer vacations (or so I always surmised), were mellowing and becoming almost human again. Most of them.

        Field trips would be on the rise: the zoo, the park, museums, with everyone restless and eager to get out of doors. No homework, or damn near none. I remember how strange and dusty and forlorn the third floor hallways used to look on the last day of school, especially with all the classroom doors open and the rooms emptied. Abandoned and forgotten. That long boulevard of floor that had been so shiny in the morning was now streaked and mottled with hundreds of sneaker and sandal-prints. On the last day of school I'd look back and around, and, momentarily, and for reasons I never understood, feel a pang of guilt, a wistful regret.

        Then I was out the door like a shot. See ya in September, Charles Kozminski P.S.! You and the old custodian--you're both on your own now.

  • extra large eggs
  • bacon? (shouldn't. gonna anyway)
  • 2% milk, a gallon
  • nonfat milk, a quart
  • bath soap

        There was this girl I'd known in school. What was her name? Cherisse. I think Cherisse. We'd suddenly, unexpectedly, run into each other on a late spring-summer-ish day, stopping dead in our tracks at the sight of each other, shocked after years of seeing each other in Miss Westmore's class every single day followed by years of never seeing each other at all. This encounter was somewhere in the Reagan eighties, a good dozen-plus years past our schoolgirl lives. We had not really been girlfriends, not close-close friends, but I remembered Reecy as one of the nice ones, or at least not a bully, with an easy-going, unassuming charm. I'd sort of liked her.

        Reecy was delighted to see me. I was what I always became in situations like this: uneasy and immediately on my guard. Relax, I told myself. It’s cool. Be cool.

        "Norrie… Norrie?! Hiiiiii!!"

        She’d rushed up to hug me, grinning huge. A little awkwardly I hugged her back, and then stepped away. Be cool.

        "Hey, Reecy." I smiled at her.

        She made a little jump forward, grabbing at my hands, just like the day when we were kids on the gym dance floor and girls hitchhiked, boogaloo-ed, cool-jerked and even slow-danced with other girls, ignoring the hooting, jeering boys lining the walls. The blaring traffic effects and opening bass lines of Expressway To Your Heart began playing in my head. Stop it.

        "How you been, girl? How long has it been?!" she chirped, swinging and shaking my hands. She looked so happy, and—God—so young, still so much like the skinny little thing she used to be. That we used to be.

        "Um, okay I guess, yeah. Yeah, it’s been awhile--how are you?" I said, gently uncoupling from her. She didn’t notice, still all smiles.

        "Me, I'm fine, you know. Hangin', tryin’ to keep up with my kids!" My jaw dropped a little at that and I tried to recover with a grin that matched hers.

        "Wow—kids? Get outta here! You're somebody's mom?"

        She laughed her sheepish little laugh, rolling her eyes.

        "Girrrlll, yeah! You know how it is."

        Then Reecy looked at me again, a penetrating, right-into-the-eyes kind of look, and took a deep breath. "So?" She said expectantly, and I braced for it."You? Got kids? You married?"

        Still that searching gaze. What the hell was she looking for?

        "No. No, I'm not. And no kids, not me." I tried not to say it like I’d escaped a plague, but Reecy’s eyebrows went up. She seemed surprised. Okay, good. I guessed.

        "No? So, what do you do? You working, or..?"

        I took a deep breath. "I--I'm--I write. I'm a writer.” I shrugged, took another step back.

        And then she surprised me. She looked—I’m still not sure this is the right word, but it's the one that comes first to mind—she looked relieved. Pleased, but also relieved, like I’d dodged a bullet or something. For the barest second I was puzzled and then at once, all at once, I understood. Her words came out in a rush of praise and pride and breathless enthusiasm, and I felt bottomless sadness for us both.

        "You write? Yeaahh, I remember you used to draw all the time! I used to wish I could draw like you! And now you write too? You're a writer?"

        I swallowed, smiling tightly. "Well, no, yeah, you know, trying to--"

        "That's great. That is great, Norrie! And you know, I knew it; I knew you'd be something! You were so smart when we were in school--you used to get really good grades I remember that! My grades were, like”—raucous laughter—“but I used to love the way you could draw. You still?”

        I started to speak but Reecy was an unstoppable train. “I am so glad to hear that—Norrie, I’m so glad one of us made it..."

        We stood in the middle of the sidewalk, oblivious to passersby pointedly walking around us and eying us up and down. And Reecy went on awhile longer like this, animated and gesturing, almost pathetically eager to congratulate me escaping grind and routine, celebrating me my many accomplishments.

        My many bogus accomplishments.

        Because I was not a writer, except in spiral notebooks and daydreams. I'd been a good student, yes, but not really an exceptional one and I did used to draw, because I liked to and because I could. But I was lying to Cherisse now because the truth—that I was working a series of administrative jobs for a downtown temp agencies—was too mundane and comedown to admit. Because I could see in her yearning eyes that she wanted—she needed—me to be special, and I couldn't bear to let her down or let her see how much I'd let myself down.

        I chuckled, shaking my head. "Yeah, well. It's hard, you know..." Reecy nodded vigorously, as though well imagining. "Oh, but you'll make it, Norrie! Just keep it up, girl, keep doing it, you’re smart, you'll make it, I know you will—”

        We chit-chatted briefly about other things: who had gotten divorced and re-married, who had left town, who had had twins, who was still as crazy as back in the day. Then we hugged once more and parted, moving around and past and away from each other, taking turns swiveling and twisting to wave. I turned around once more; she was a mark disappearing into the horizon and I missed our old times and I couldn't get away from her fast enough.

        And Reece if you're reading this now, try not to hate me for lying. I was wrong for that, but I wasn't playing you, not really. I was just… scared. You had come floating up out of my past, a girl who had known the girl with all the potential, and—for a moment, for a little while—I was desperate to see in an old friend’s eyes the me I used to be, wished I was, would like to have been.

  • laundry detergent
  • mild cheddar cheese
  • frozen spinach
  • soda pop.
  • green tea
  • soda pop


Notes To Self by DL Minor

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