Tag: childhood

Time Capsule

I’ve often thought about the possibility of making a time capsule.

For those who may not know, a time capsule is a container you fill with messages, articles of clothing and knickknacks that represent the current age. Then, you bury the container in the ground for some future society to discover.

My brother, a real handyman who still lives in the same house he and my sister had grown up in, made one of those interesting discoveries the other day while doing some remodeling.

The small, turn of the century colonial we lived in was originally owned by my grandparents and over the years, my brother has done a lot of extensive work to it. He’s torn down walls, installed new floors and fixtures and even put windows where none previously existed. In fact, the only portion of the house he hadn’t really tackled before was the make shift bathroom my father had built that lied on the first floor.

Since it was the only bathroom in the entire home and would be an expensive endeavor, not to mention a huge inconvenience whenever nature called for the next few weeks, he had put off remodeling it. Finally, the circumstances were right and the demolition could begin.

Upon tearing down many layers of paneling he made his discovery and immediately called me. I rushed over.

Lying beneath the torn, weathered particle board was writing. Some of it written by the hand of an adult, and some by the hand of a boy who would one day grow up to write this blog.

As I shined a flashlight up on the wall to get a closer look, it reminded me of what Egyptian archaeologists must have felt like when they discovered an ancient tomb of some long dead pharaoh. Would the scribble indicate what was housed beyond the great wall? Or perhaps there would be a silly warning I had written to future generations not to proceed any further. Nope. There wasn’t even a map leading to the location of my lost Spiderman action figures. Damn! But, what it was turned out to be something even better.

The first thing I had written on the wall read the following:

“Jimmy 7 years old”

Seven was the age I would have been when I wrote it; which would now be thirty-five years ago. Below my name was written the name of my sister Krissy, who was 6 at the time.

I found myself staring at the scribble for the longest time. Touching it. Running my fingers across the letters just to make sure it was real. The memory of writing it, once long-buried by life, had suddenly come back to me, and I remembered every vivid detail about writing it on the wall just before Dad covered it up with paneling.

I could picture the platinum-blonde, seven-year old boy writing his name and age on the wall. Making the most of his third grade education by trying to use proper spelling and pushing his pencil deep into the surface of the wood to make sure the lead was visibly transferred.

Finding something this cool from a general time period is amazing, but being able to pinpoint the exact day that it was written is something even better. Fortunately for me, on an adjacent wall my father had done just that. Below the names of other family members who had been present at the house that night, he had written the exact date the paneling was placed on the wall: “June 9th, 1977”

Now, I’m pretty sure the last thing on Dad’s mind at the time was: “Hey, let’s see what we’ll all be doing thirty-five years from years now when we find this!”,  but I really wish he would have been alive for this amazing discovery. I can only imagine the conversations we would have had about it for the remainder of the day.

Next to the date, Dad had written down his name (Louis) along with my mother’s (Joanne) and for some reason, decided to include the date that they were married: “April 2, 1966”.

Sadly, their marriage would not last, but the memory of this project, once long since forgotten is now one I’ll treasure for years to come.

My Imaginary Friend

At first I wasn’t sure if I should even tell you this story. Quite frankly, I was afraid that you might think I was crazy. I’m not talking “Oh, well we all have our moments” type crazy. No, I’m taking “put on the white straight jacket and throw me in the rubber room” crazy. But in the end I surmised that the notion of you thinking I was crazy pales in comparison to what actually happened to me and therapy hasn’t helped.

My doctor believes that writing this down might be cathartic for me since our sessions of late haven’t been going all that well. Sure, there have been some breakthroughs and revelations since my breakdown six months ago, although I’m still not even sure how I was able to suppress the memory of it for twenty years. He’s been wrong before, like the time he upped my medication and I slept for three days, but for the sake of my own sanity I’m willing to take his advice if it brings me closure.

You must understand that the thought of reliving events about my childhood and things that go bump in the night isn’t something that really appeals to me, but if it somehow brings me solace and gets me off of these meds I’m willing to take the chance. So here goes.

To tell this story properly requires a little explanation. Growing up, some children are prone to having imaginary friends. Some invisible person that comes to play with them, listens to their problems and talks to them in a voice only they can understand. A rite of passage some doctors believe may fill a void that exists in a child’s life. Something that’s very common and also quite healthy if you ask my shrink.

I too was one of those children who experienced the imaginary friend phenomenon growing up. But having the experience is where the similarities end. In those cases, the children all grew up to live normal lives. But in my case, the “friend” wasn’t invisible, didn’t come to play and surely didn’t give a damn about my problems. In reality (yeah, now there’s a funny word for it), my “friend” also wasn’t a person. Mine was actually a “thing” if you really want to know, and very far from imaginary.

When I was eight years old the visits started and they continued twice a week every summer for years. Always starting on the Summer Solstice, June 20th, and always the same way.

Deep in the night while tucked under the covers of my bed I could hear it. The scuffling from underneath. The sound that broke me out in sweat like a Pavlonian dog, making my heart race. Coming from the place I promised myself I’d never peek under for fear of what might come out and pull me down into darkness.

From the moment the sound began I quickly dismissed notion that it might be a mouse in the wall. Looking back, I wish it had been an army of rats. Anything would be better then what was coming.

I also quickly discovered that first summer that Spider Man wasn’t real either. The night light with the wall crawler on it that sat near my bedside, the one my Mom had bought me for Christmas, the one that religiously guarded me in my bed and vanquished all foes, would be of no help.

So I pulled the covers up to my nose and prayed to God to make it go away. Promising him that if he’d help me just this one time I’d be in church every Sunday for the rest of my life.

Telling myself that if I just close my eyes suddenly the sun would be shining and my mother would be yelling for me to come down for breakfast. I’d hear the sound of birds chirping outside my open window and the swaying of bed sheets hanging on the neighbor’s clothes line in the warm summer breeze. The smell of bacon would fill the air and I would reassure myself that last night was only just a bad dream.

But this wasn’t a dream. I was still under the covers in the middle of the night and could hear rain pelting the window outside. Worse still, I was too scared to call out for help as the shadow began to rise from under my bed.