punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Memories: Bigger than a bread box

Last night, I got a box from my friend Neal which contained some rather volatile material: memories of growing up. See, I may have mentioned this before, but growing up, from age 12 to 19, Neal and I sent taped letters back and forth. He saved some of them as a "best of" collection, which he sent me a few years back, and part of me is scared to listen to them. I have listened to a few, and while most of them were goofy commentaries, some were hiding stuff I had kept secret from him because I was afraid my parents would hear me, or confiscate the tapes and listen to my private thoughts.

This is why the idea of a journal or a diary was laughable to me as a kid. What, a record of my private thoughts? Back then? Bwah haw haw! Right...! Even now, as I put stuff on this site, I realize that I should never put into print something I would regret later, or that would piss someone off. This makes the journal a bit spotty, which annoys me, but not so much that I want to say, "You know what Joe Doe did at work today? Oh my god, that fat pothead said that Susan was ugly, when it's obvious Jane is FAR more the hideous visage. I mean, come on, braces at 34? Here come Miss Stove Top Without The Stuffing!" That's hurtful to Joe, Susan, and Jane. When I sent tapes to Neal, I confessed stuff of that nature which seems so petty now. But what I didn't send him was my suicide attempts, my dark murderous thoughts, puberty fantasies, and the fact I was into self-injury. I also didn't send him things like, "I hate my dad" and "My mother is drunk again," because I truly feared if I said something against my family, my parents would find out, and then I'd be banished from ever contacting Neal again. For long periods, Neal was my only friend, in the form of a series of cassette tapes sent back and forth monthly. I think in many cases Neal's letters kept me alive. I even recall one instance where I didn't attempt suicide because I wasn't done with his letter yet; I was on tape 3 of a 7 tape letter. But as an adult, I feel kid of bad when he reads this journal, and calls me and says, "You never told me that. Why didn't you tell me that back then?" Uh ... because I was scared? Also, I am sure if Neal had ANY inkling I used to stab myself in the arm and hands with pencils so many times I *still* have the gray dots in my arm today where the leads broke off... he might have told his mom and dad. And they would have done something. Of course, that would have been smart of them to do that, but back then, the thought I could end my life at any time to escape gave me hope in some sick way. Some the diary of my youth, as presented to him, had many missing pages. But because he sent this stuff back, the missing pages *I* had lost are being filled in. And some of it is quite humbling.

For example, one kid I didn't like in 7th grade was a kid named Hubert "Trey" Garrison. I totally forgot about him. I used to tease that poor dude constantly. So did the rest of the school. We called him, "Hubey," and to make matters worse, he was one of those kids who never knew when to shut up. Like he'd come back with really weak retorts, and that made you want to tease him more. In one letter, I said that I teased him so much, be broke out into a swearing fit, and the gym teacher overheard him, and gave him something like 87 laps around the track (it was apparently a rule of 1 lap per letter per swear word, so "crap" got four laps, "bitch" got 5, and if you said, "Aw, shit, I crapped!" that would have been 11 laps). I wonder how he did 87 laps, he was such a weak, bandy-legged thing. But it was my fault. I incited him to riot, because my retorts were "wittier" than his (to 13 year olds), and finally he just snapped. I was pretty happy with myself back then, but I am ashamed of it now. He probably went on to become a rich software engineer ... or bitter food critic.

So last week, Neal was cleaning out his stuff, and found the box with my old letters and stuff I sent him; a collection of non-tape stuff. He decided to send it to me, since I don't have many tangible childhood memories (thanks to my dad). It's an incredible gift, really, and one that few people get to see about their youth. I opened it up last night, and sifted through some of the top layer. I don't know why I sent him copies of my high school newspaper, for instance. There's a lot of crazy junior high stuff in there, too. I also had an obsession with drawing serpents and lizard-like monsters. A ton of, "Look, I live with FanTek!" memorabilia. My first ever published work is in there, a commentary about crazy substitute teachers in junior high (which had been heavily edited by the newspaper staff, according to my notes). My first play! I wrote it in Drama Camp (yes, Drama Camp, and I had a good time, so sue me), although it never made it to the final presentation because it was a comedy (the directors were more into dramas and musicals). There were photos taken in my senior year of high school, plus the first year I lived in the FanTek house. Heh ... hehe... I have pictures of Bruce and Cheryl BEFORE they were married. Cheryl was in her early 20s, had a curly 80s perm, and Bruce had quite a lot of hair sticking out all over his head. He needed an afro pick, man! Maybe they can bribe me NOT to put some of those on my site. Also more pictures of me bone-thin. Man, I looked like a lollipop: fat head, stick body. And a lot of my really, really off-the-wall humor. Holy crap, some of it is even funny now.

I have only gone through about 20% of it. I confess, I sifted for photos first. I think this journal will have some of it posted in, and some of it scanned.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000391.html
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