Posts tagged memoir

Fragments: Black Gloves

Fragments- Black Gloves


Four years old, and my father’s hands were so big.

In our first house, the garage was the weight room. His domain.

I spent hours in there, chasing our cat or pretending to drive the car. I always watched him, Daddy, freckled arms in a white shirt, stacking weights on the lat machine. The rise of the carriage as he pulled down the bar, the sound of metal rattling on metal.

I still hear that sound in my mind, ten years past the last time I lived at home. He still has that machine, in the basement now.

Sometimes he would pick me up and set me on top of the plates for a set, I added an extra thirty pounds and had a grand old time, riding up and down like a roller coaster.

He always wore lifting gloves, black or gray. Velcro wrists and palms lined with leather. So many pairs over the years, wearing them early in the morning, or after work. I would slide them over my tiny hands, laughing when my finger tips wouldn’t even pass the seam below the first knuckle. They were huge, Dad has big hands.

Now that I’m grown, my own hands are also large, but the bones are finer, more like the hands of my mother.

I used to put his spare gloves on my hands and follow him around with a little pair of two-pound hand weights covered in green foam. I would imitate his bicep curls and struggle with each move, breathing through my teeth like he did when rounding out a heavy set.

I think he originally purchased the green weights for Mom, but I would pretend they were just for me. They definitely weren’t for him, a man who considers twenty pounds to be paltry and light.

Whenever I think of those gloves and those hours, I feel comforted. I feel safe.

Even in the midst of serious trouble, the scent of mingled metal and leather is a balm.

I remember each pair of gloves as it died, worn out, the leather in the palms cracking and the velcro rendered useless, all different makers and colors. They all feel the same on my hands, and breathe into my heart that nostalgic, metallic peace.

header image credit: Compfight stock photos

Fragments: Study Hall

Fragments- Study Hall (1)“She wants him so badly, knows what she wants to be…”

It was so easy to glance in your direction. My fingers gripped tight around a wooden pencil, clammy, the angle of it dug a trench in the last knuckle of my right middle finger, so deep it was still there in the afternoon when I changed clothes in the locker room before practice. The pencil was the one thing holding me in reality for that moment, as those words flowed onto the paper in a hushed hurry while your head remained bent over a red grade book. That head of chestnut hair, it had gold strands and you were the only person I’d ever met who always looked beautiful, even under fluorescent tube lights.

I scribbled away until a tiny movement, meaningless as your foot shifting to the right, grabbed my attention as though you had called my name out loud. My heart was a prisoner banging a metal cup against the bars, so erratic and beating so hard under my ribs. I was afraid you knew, you could see across the table to read the teenage angst as it poured onto the page, each cliché and turn of phrase full of my obsession…

Oh, how I loved you. I agonized for those weeks and months in your classroom, so adolescent and so thirsty for whatever semblance of affection came my way. Your glance, your words, the time you spent: it all meant that I was worthwhile, that I was something greater than the toxic neurotransmitters running wild within my mind. I read through the dated pages now and it’s almost laughable, immature and repetitive; but I know how deeply I felt each line, each word, each look, and each breath I took around you. There were days when I begged for it to dissipate, but I didn’t really want to live without it.

The pain of that love was sweet and intoxicating like no drug I’ve swallowed since, wonderful and horrible all at once. It was a fire that stayed in my heart for years, lingering even into adulthood, fading only when I finally met real love, the enduring passion of partner and equal and friend and lover all housed in a single body.

I will never forget the days, the sweaty palms, hammering heart.

The days I walked into your classroom knowing that at least with you, I could have a moment to smile, to feel something of my own choosing.

The days of unrequited bliss that inched through air and over empty desks, a pittance play-acting a fortune; the days of a teenage heart stuck in neutral, idling across the room with no other fuel to spend than the fumes of pining after the impossible.


Epigraph credit: ‘Don’t Stand so Close to Me’, The Police
Header image credit: Lock and Stock Photos by ajmontpetit.com

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