The year was 1989. We live in a small suburban (almost rural at the time) town called Irmo. Sometimes I find it amazing what the brain chooses to remember and what it doesn’t or wont’. As a whole I do not remember anything from 1st grade to 4th grade which is where we ended up. My mom and dad had gotten back together again.
She loved him, southern tradition and her religious upbringing said she needed to stay with him. Maybe she didn’t want to be like her mother who continued to have children with men and either put them up for adp[tion or treat them like crap. Jessie put her 2 boys up for adoptions and while she didn’t actually put my mom up for adoption she did give my mom up to Anna, her grandmother, without even a second thought. Those are things I’ll never know. We moved shortly before Hurricane Hugo. I remember this because it was the 1st time I ever saw snow. However little it was and it didn’t stick but I saw snow. I remember driving by our old house in Columbia and seeing the big oak tree that used to hover over the back of the house now pressed against it. The red screen door laying in the driveway. The yard was a mess.
By this time I’m in 4th grade. I was in a new school. My sister, Lauren and I would spend a majority of our schooling at the same school. I don’t remember that being an inconvenience or an annoyance but maybe it was since it felt appropriate to say it. Our relationship was as it should be for a brother and sister. I loved her but she got on my nerves sometimes. I was mamma’s boy and she was daddy’s girl. Or at least that’s how I remember it. Lauren would get in trouble from my mom for not cleaning her room, I would get in trouble with my dad for playing with Barbie.
I did relatively well in school but Lauren was always the smarter one…or maybe she applied herself better…either way she got the better grades. I had friends in school classes were small and I think I got the attention I needed. I remember sitting in class and learning to read lips as the girls talked about the boys in class that they liked. I was kind of shy but got a long with most of my class mates. I remember some of the picking on me because I was “gay.”
Again, I didn’t know what that was or what that even meant but I had heard it before and I was very self-conscious. I remember this kid named Joey and he had the new Reebok Pump High Top basketball shoes. They were white and blue and the pump was a basketball and orange. I begged to get these shoes. I needed to have them to be cool (every kid says this at some point). They were $100 and neither of my parents were having it. They bought me the L.A. Gears. They guys called me L.A. Queer. I got British Knights. They moved on to something new. I remember being really trusting or gullible however you see it. There were two boys named Josh and I wanted to be their friend so bad I got into all sorts of trouble. One example was when they convinced me that if I went into the boy’s room and climbed up into the ceiling I could skip school. Now mind you they weren’t going to be skipping school and coming with me they just said that it could be done and I said that I would do it. Needless to say that I pulled all the tiles down before I could even hoist myself up. Huge trouble.
The first time I was ever called the “N” word was by one of the boys named Josh. I remember being really upset and when I got home it was explained to me that no one should use that word again and if it happened I should tell the teacher. I don’t remember if I did. I had a girlfriend. Her name was Erica. That seemed to quiet things down for a bit. In elementary school holding hands was enough. She would be the first of many to help “save” me.
The next couple years are probably the best I can remember. My parents seemed not to fight as much. We were still going to the same church, I had lots of friends from there some of which lived in the neighborhood. My sister and I would ride bikes every where. We played with the neighbor kids. Mom threw backyard carnivals where people face painted and there were games.
I think the first time we went to Disney was during this time. I remember having a Mickey Doll and Lauren having a Mini Doll that we used to toss back up and down the stair like they were Olympic Gymnast. We would get in out sleeping bags and slide down the stairs in the summers, take the cushions off the couch to build cubbies and sit on the springs while we ate our cereal and watched cartoons. My dad worked for the cable company so we had free cable. We were the best of friends most of the time. Our rooms were upstairs, separated by a big play space. We had our own bathroom to share. The house was Brick 2 stories, much like the one before. No garage though. 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. A huge backyard, big enough for us to ride our bikes around and it had a tree house.