Lately I’ve been experiencing flashbacks.
I am in nursery school.
I’m miserable and wearing a blue dress with smocking.
Everyone else is wearing pants.
I’m wondering if there’s a bathroom nearby.
I am filled to the brim with the hundreds of tiny cups of ice cold water I’ve just consumed.
It seems the water cooler is the only toy that interests me in the entire classroom.
There are kids everywhere.
I do not want to play with any of them.
I yell out, “Anyone want to play ‘water cooler?’” to fool my classmates into thinking I’m one of them.
Next, I see my Kindergarten class in exquisite detail.
There are clusters of ergonomically sized tables and chairs.
There are colorful construction paper cut-outs on the walls.
I can’t identify the reason for the cut-outs.
They are oddly-shaped, meaningless blobs.
I focus instead on a bottle of Welch’s grape juice.
There are more children I do not wish to play with.
A lot of them are running.
I tell the teacher I would like to pour everyone juice.
I mishandle the bottle.
It spills on most of the children.
I’m in day camp, looking inside my backpack.
The backpack contains two pairs of clean underwear tucked into a baggie.
Back at school, I see the leafy path that will lead us from the main school to the art room.
I see my art teacher’s purple clothing.
She has painted an egg on a black background.
The canvas on which she painted the egg is leaning against the wall.
I can’t stop staring at it.
I had no idea she was an artist.
I tell her that.
I am back in math class reliving my inability to understand how to read a ruler.
I have a stomach ache.
I see my velvet shoes darken before my eyes.
I hear my mother’s windshield wipers as I sit quietly in the backseat of our car.
We are on our way to yet another day of school.
I’m hoping the pitter patter of raindrops turns into a massive tornado, the entire town floods, and my school collapses.
We are late.
My mother has a nightgown under her coat.
I have a test.
I’m in third grade.
I need to go to the bathroom.
I find my chair and take out my pencil from my pencil case.
I can’t remember any of the names of the explorers.
I know one of them is Spanish.
I write down the name, Cortez, and cross my fingers.
I get distracted by a grasshopper and wish I was him.
I think how easy his life must be.
I want to jump out the window with him, and hop around in the grass.
I get chills thinking how easy it would be to escape.
I see myself on the bus home.
We have approached my stop.
I do not want to get up.
I seem to have a secret.
I’m certain there is a theme running through these memories.
I can’t quite put my finger on it.
I’m back in camp.
I don’t want to be there.
I hate all games.
I’m mortified when I get called on for duck-duck-goose.
And then I understand the pattern, the meaning, the narrative that’s been chasing me, haunting me, forcing me to come to terms with the core of who I once was and why I didn’t want to or couldn’t bring myself to play with the other children. The truth was I was too busy peeing in my pants.