November 29, 1994 Tuesday
I was born in February 1979 in Galesburg, Illinois. I was more than a month early, and Mom and Dad made their way to the hospital in a terrible blizzard.
Dad taught me to be a Bears fan, but when I was little I would more watch with Dad so I could eat downstairs in front of the TV on Sundays like him. Then I would often leave during the second quarter. The games seemed way too long.
Of course, I was three when I had my accident, in 1982. I remember all if it–my first memory. I was visiting my grandparents on their Knox County farm during the summer while Mom and Dad went camping. One morning Grandma Connors was mowing, and I was told to go inside. I tried to open the front door, but it was locked, or I couldn’t open it. I can still see myself reaching up for the knob, trying to turn it. So I went to tell her. She was just coming around the back on the house on a red riding mower. I slipped under the mower, and I can see the white of the house’s siding through the dark insides of the mower as I laid there. Grandma ran into the house to make a call and then came out and wrapped my right foot and leg in a brown and orange dish towel. I don’t remember it hurting. Soon a blue car came; it stopped in the farm yard, and I was carried to it. I spent three weeks in the hospital, getting skin graphs. Then I had to learn how to walk again.
Kindergarten was fun, and I was eager to learn, but would often get in trouble. Maybe it was on account of me being an only child at the time. One time we took a walking trip across town to the Elmwood Pizza Company. I shook a mound of spicy pepper on Steven Swenden’s pizza. I had to walk with Mrs. Simmonds (my teacher) on the way back to school. It seemed that I was always in the corner, wedged between the paste cabinet and the wall, in an orange plastic chair. But I moved on to first grade, where Mrs. Allen was my teacher, her last year before retiring. My special memory that year was when she let me select a plastic E.T. figure from her prize drawer for being the only one to get an A+ on a spelling unit. She was really nice.
Second grade was the year I changed a lot. I had my tonsils taken out. Mom started to go to a obstetrician in Peoria every few weeks. Jenna Fitch, I girl I liked in kindergarten, moved away to North Carolina. I also stood at the wall at recess for two weeks for saying something to the music teacher. I don’t remember what that was. I joined the Cub Scouts. And on May 19, 1987, Mrs. Cox, the school secretary, knocked on my teacher, Mrs. Writemark’s, door to tell me I had a phone call. Nicole had been born. I also learned about something called Star Trek.
Third grade was great. That was the year of the Raisin-ettes, three girls from my class who performed a lip-sync of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” The group consisted of Haley, Leslie, Crista Gold, and Emma Reed. The first night of the Fall Festival, the town’s carnival in the town’s central park, they where on stage, in garbage bags over black tights. I asked Emma if she’d want to go on the rides. We did all night. It was spectacular. The next day we talked and talked about it, she in her red coat and hood, as we alternated between swings and the jungle gym. I pushed her a lot on the swings. It was fun.
For Valentine’s Day that year I bought Emma a little panda–no, brown bear–that said “Be Mine” on a little heart it was holding. I couldn’t get the courage to give it to her, and I paced in front of Mrs. Endres’ third grade room. Shane McIntosh came along and he gave it to her for me. I kinda wish I had.