Huntress of the Lens


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Smile, you're on Candid Camera

The strangest thing has been happening lately. I'll be engaged in some daily activity and a very intense, completely detailed snap-shot of somewhere or sometime will flash in my head. The things that choose to appear in such vividness are not important per se, but they are so lifelike and authentic (and like all things that I see with my eyes that are not eyes) they come loaded with smells, and sounds and sometimes even a story to go with them. They're complete multi-media flashes and don't usually disturb me enough to blink or comment or let on that one just happened.

A lot of them are from World of Warcraft. I'll be tattooing and all of a sudden I'll have a little POW! of flying over Nagrand heading toward the Ogre area where you have to kill Chowar the Pillager. Or flying across the gap and into Netherstorm. These don't surprise me so much, I spent two years immersed in that game and have something near 80 twenty-four hour periods of subjecting my brain cells to the world of Azeroth. I haven't played in months though, and it always surprises me when I get a strong flash of a game location.

The stranger ones are when it's some innocuous little snap from childhood. Really, it's not so much having a memory as being shown a fading paper square from a photo album. I'll be walking down the pasta aisle at the store and FLASH! see a picture of me navigating the endless distance of curb in front of the house across the street from where I lived until I was seven. We never knew those people's name, we called them "The Crabs" and Mr. Crab apparently had nothing to do other than water his lawn or sit, hose in hand, on the porch just waiting for some kid to step on his grass. I lived directly across the street. If I wanted to walk to my Grandmother's one street over I was allowed, but only if I never crossed a street. "Not even one foot in the gutter Laura, you stay out of that street!"

That meant walking around the end of the cul de sac we lived on, then the length of my street, around the corner and through the Beard's yard to her house. Most people were cool with kids wandering their yards, but not Mr. Crab. So I have Dottie on one side of the street on our porch, watching to make sure I didn't set foot in the street at all, and Mr. Crab and his hose, ever at the ready.

I still like to play a mental game as an adult where I'll walk effortlessly on something thin and imagine that there is a two thousand foot drop into hot lava if I mis-step and don't stay on it. I can walk back and forth, stand on one foot, do anything I want until I really have the reality of the plummet and the lava firmly fixed in my head, then off the edge I go. This is what the stretch of curb across the front of the Crab's house was like. Long, narrow (maybe four inches, how wide is a curb?) and deadly. Dottie with her yardstick on one side and Mr. Crab and his hose on the other. When you're little. there's very little difference between those threats and hot lava.

It's an endless stretch of shaky concrete, swaying gently in the breeze of fear, and I can not make one false placement of my foot. That was the most arduous part of the journey to my Grandmother's house, and could take hours (or minutes that felt like hours) to make the crossing.

That's one of the pictures that will just flash into my head, me walking a curb as a little kid. BLAM! and then back to what I was doing, but the whole story comes with it.

Then there's a particular corner of my room when I was little. The dresser drawers were painted in three gradients of pink from dark to light, bottom to top. Double windows in that corner, although the curtains have lost their vividness but always sway in a breeze in that shot. That's the room where most of the scary things happened, at night when you could no longer distinguish the shades of pink in the moonlight. My bed would lurch, inch by inch into the center of the room, and there were alligators underneath and potato bugs right in the top crack by my pillows. I would sit, stranded in that bed in the middle of the room surrounded by giant prehistoric reptiles and potato bugs, completely unable to put my feet on the floor to get to the bathroom. The laundry basket at the end of the hall showed its true colors as a hunched and hungry witch in the dimness of a night hall. That place was dangerous!

I could call my Big Daddy for rescue, but only once a night or so, because everything would go back to normal when he got there and he would get irritated, he "had to get up early." Every night before he tucked me in he would throw dimes at my wall to make sure it was solid and that I wouldn't roll into another dimension while I slept. That came from Twilight Zone. To this day I will not let my fingers dangle over the top edge of the mattress, I know where the potato bugs live.

FLASH! Three pink drawers, dark on the bottom, light on the top. That's the picture, but all of that other stuff comes loaded into the image when I see it.

POP! the leafy place that seemed so magical across the street from Lisa Borgen's house, where she found a dead guy on the way to school one day. I wasn't there, I missed it. I was jealous of the fame and attention she got for finding a dead guy. That was the place we were always going to run away to, that leafy place and the nearby bamboo. Close enough to sneak home for food, and we could make anything else we needed by weaving or tying the bamboo together. We wouldn't go to school, and we would live there, together forever, even after we got big. We started our life-plan by trying to make place mats from bamboo leaves. We had to be ready before we made the big move.

I'm sure a Brain Scientist or a Rocket Surgeon could explain rationally why certain little cells of memory pop and I'm flooded with them while doing daily activities. I consumed an enormous amount of LSD in high school, maybe every memory I've ever had is now packed in bubble wrap made from Lysergic acid diethylamide, and its ability to separate and protect each memory from smearing the others is degrading over time. I just know that I'll be doing something normal like driving or tattooing or being romantic with my husband and POOF! there is one of the random images hanging on my screen for me to examine.

I'm free to walk around and through the still-frame, remember other things that go with it, carry it forward or backward until it's a whole story or just see it and let it pass as quickly as it came. If I'm tattooing I'm already in a zone, and often indulge myself in a little tour around the moment since my hands work by themselves once they're going. This is never scary, and it's never the truly horrible things I could remember that come upon me so unexpectedly. Just little snapshots, flung like cards in that game where you try to fly them across the room and into a trash can. It's as if I'm the floor they sometimes land on, off to the side.

These are also nothing like the explosions I experienced for a few years in a row, the ones I was absolutely certain represented exactly what it would be like to be shot in the face with a shotgun, but have the continuing awareness to describe the blast afterward. My explosions are for an entirely different blog, but probably will never be chronicled, they're just too singular in topic. I guess this is where those landed and you'll just have to imagine what that was like, and how inconvenient it could be to experience them often and when least expected.

This is what you get on this haphazard Sunday morning in the middle of eternity. Just a little peek at a few polaroids that will pop into my head in a completely random fashion.

One simply can not be profound every day.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The fish can fly, the dogs and cats dance together and all the flowers are edible.