What I Remember

11 23 00
6:15 PM

Waking up on Saturday, July 21st, 1984. The hour of 6 am is approaching fast and I know that when it arrives, I must add my person to the stuff in a car, and leave my homeland forever. There is an airplane somewhere dropping off different passengers and being refueled, preparing for the trip with my mother & I. I’m lying in bed trying to imagine what such a drastic change on my life will be like …trying to put myself mentally in just one ordinary day of my life, say two weeks in the future from now. Those habits of the people I’m used to are gone. Nearly everything I have ever known, will be gone. I try to remember what Lincoln, NE is like, what my grandparents house is like, try to think what my life will be like in a day there.
I can not. I was 8 last time I was there, now I am 12. I have vague memories of the trip, the house, the state, and I know that I do not like any of them. I think about the desert and the mountains surrounding me now, and I know that I love them.
I giggle with curiosity as to whether or not the neighbor boy, David,  will actually get up to wave goodbye to me. I have broken David’s 15-year old heart just so recently, and now I break it more by going away. When I said my goodbye’s last night, David pulled me aside and told me he’d be there in the morning to wave at me as we drove down the street. I told him he’s crazy, don’t even, didn’t I tell you we’re leaving at 6 a.m. ? You don’t have to do that. He insists. I believe his intentions, but this is a boy who sleeps ’til noon every day. I told him “thank you –even though you’ll probably accidentally oversleep and wake up at noon, ..know I thank you anyway”. I smiled, gave him a hug, and left. This morning, what’s more real to me than any of the change about to happen in my life, is the wonderment at whether David will actually be able to get up to wave to me. I half hope he does, I half hope he doesn’t. We’ve made our last unconscious bet.
Mother is screaming at me to get up already, we can’t be late, but I do not want to. I want to lay here, in my bed, holding onto the things I know in my life. I want to get up and go over to a friend’s house to hang out, like every other summer day. I think of the neighbor boys, my closest friends ..David and his year-older brother Junior, and the boy down the street Jesse ..my close friend of 5 years. I think of their happy reactions at the news that I didn’t have to leave. Then I think about why I am. I know I have to get up and do this, and mom is still hollering at me every time she passes the room.
Getting ready to leave that morning is a blur, acting in a sleepy automatic coma. Our stuff is in the car, 6 o’clock approaches. I kneel to say my devastated goodbye to our longtime family dog, Sammy, whom my mother will not take. A last pat for her, and I am loaded into the back seat of the car. Now it is happening, we are Leaving.
As the car rolls down the street and past David’s house I turn to look, but he is not there. I have won –he must have overslept like I told him he would. But I am sad. Junior is out front leaning on a post and he smiles wide and waves. I wave back. Before we are all the way down the street, me turned fully around in the backseat of the car to watch it all drift away, trying desperately to imprint it in my mind  ….David comes running out of the front door of his house and starts waving. I can tell he has been crying. At first he is not smiling, just waving, but I grin a you-were-right at him, and wave vigorously back. David is smiling and waving all the way to the corner. Our last unconscious bet is decided. He did wake up to see me off.
Mom had been trying to ask me something, highly irritated now and demanding my attention as I watch David get farther away, waving. Whatever she is saying is automatically more important than me just watching David wave.
But you know …it is not. Had I listened to whatever she was saying, instead of making her wait a few moments more, I would not be remembering it here, 17 years later. I would still have no idea what minor detail she was insisting on getting straight right at that moment. But David waking up to wave to me was important enough for me to remember, not only now but for all of my life.
I think that sometimes parents need to realize that they are not always the automatic most important thing for their kid to be paying attention to. I’m not saying that they should never be paid attention to. But I’m saying they need to realize that sometimes they can wait 5 minutes. A child’s memory can last a lifetime. And sometimes there are other important things for us to remember.

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