Category Archives: memories

All the Things I’ll Never See


Often times we stand in the here and now and we believe that we understand what brought us to this point. We take for granted certain things about ourselves and our world. We have seen the past and we look forward to the future. In reality, we have personally experienced very little in our own lives and we rely heavily on the stories of others to tell us about the things we will never see.

All the things we will never experience for ourselves, and all the times we have never been a part of, must be learned again. These unseen events and people are nothing more than pages in a book, or words leaving someone’s lips. The story is recorded, either physically or mentally, and then passed down to us, but we can never truly know what it was like to stand in the middle of that moment and be moved by it.

Here are just a very few of the many things that I will never be able to see, but nonetheless shape me and the world I live in. The moment has passed and it will never come again. Though I may understand that this past does exist, in essence, I am completely ignorant to the truth that can only be fully known by someone who was there or who lived in a world much younger than the one I currently occupy.

I’ll never stand under the stars and look up at the moon and wonder what it is made of or how far away the stars are. People just like me have been there and stood under the stars looking back at the rest of us. They drove around, jumped up and down, and hit golfballs across the face of a dead lump of rock. Mystery solved, no more imagination necessary.

I’ll never walk down a hallway and see separate bathrooms for “Whites” and “Blacks.” I will never truly grasp what it was like to experience this void of separation that ran so deep for so long. My young life views this culture as it is now and the truth that it wasn’t always this way can sometimes seem a little absurd.

I’ll never stand in the crowd as John, Paul, George, and Ringo come out on stage and send the waiting crowd into a frenzy. As strange as it may seem, the simple gathering of these four guys playing music didn’t just change the lives of a few fanatical teenage girls. It did change things in a noticeable way and sent the world culture in a new direction.

I’ll never see my parents as teenagers falling in love for the first time. I’ve heard stories about their younger selves , playing drums and singing Janis Joplin songs, but it seems like it must be so long ago. I wonder if it seems like that far in the past to them? As I grow older will my memories get further apart, and harder to reach, or just more compressed so that the trip further into the past takes the same amount of time?

I’ll never come to the crest of a hill, look out across the other side and see land that is not already owned by somebody else. No matter how far you go you are never far from everyone else. When you get there you may find a soda can or some dirty socks under a shrub. Gone are the days when there was a wilderness to be “tamed,” when you could strike out towards the country to start anew.

I’ll never stand in front of a Washington D.C. monument and hear a speech about dreams. Will there ever be a moment again when someone speaks so passionately and effectively about something that is so important to them? Or have we become so jaded and cynical of everyone and everything that when they speak we ask ourselves what is their real agenda, or what’s in it for them?

I’ll never stand on the beach and stare into the vast expanse of ocean and wonder what is on the other side. Everyone knows what is there and we all have seen the pictures to prove it. There are other people very much like us over there and they are standing on their own beach. No monsters, no demons, no edge to fall off of.

Absolutely everything we learn about the past is told to us by someone else. The separation between what we know and what we have experienced is vast indeed. We do not inherently know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, we have never seen this happen. Most of us have never actually witnessed penguins diving off the Antarctic shelf or felt the heat radiating from the mouth of an active volcano. Yet, we take for granted that these things happen.

We do not even know everything about our own past. We must be told about the times we spent before we can remember. We are nothing without a past even though it is a past we largely have no personal knowledge of. I will soon become the bearer of the past for others, but how much do I really know?

3.. 2.. 1.. Kill Your Little Brother


Me, Danny, and some baby.

Danny was still unconscious when the paramedics took him out of our living room. They carried him out on a hard stretcher, his head immobilized with a series of straps over his forehead and chin. The other families who lived in our apartment complex stood outside on the lawn we all shared to get a better view of what the commotion was all about. The lights atop the multiple emergency vehicles, now parked in front of our door, lit up the summer evening in intervals that flashed off and on through neighbor’s windows in alternating blues, reds, and whites. They carried his little body out to the ambulance, lifted him into the back, and shut the doors behind him. They drove away and my mother followed, leaving me in the living room with only my aunt and the horrifying guilt that I had just killed my little brother.

It had only been a few minutes earlier that Danny and I were playing in the living room as the evening was winding down. We were watching TV and intermittently pestering each other and roughhousing during commercial breaks as young boys might normally do when they are bored. Nobody was planning on anything eventful happening in the very near future.

It was late summertime in southern California and since there was no school yet, we had spent most of the day outside, as usual, playing games like Tag and Hide-and-Go-Seek with the neighborhood kids. Most of the kids we played with were a bit older than us, the bigger kids being around nine or ten, while Danny and I were around four and seven years old. After thoroughly exhausting all of the standard childhood games, including all the sub-variations of Tag, such as Freeze Tag and Cartoon Tag, the older kids showed us a new game.

The Rocket, as they called it, required only two people, preferably one would be a bit smaller than the other. Perfect, Danny is just the right size, he has no idea how awesome this is going to be! The larger of the two lies down with their back on the ground, pulls their knees to their chest and creates a little seat with the bottom of their feet. It resembled the fetal position with the bottom kid’s legs pulled in tight to the chest, ready to spring up and out forcibly. The smaller kid sat on the upturned feet, like a barstool, and prepared for launch. As the kid on the ground pushed powerfully up and out, the lucky little human projectile on the other end soared through the air and landed somewhat gracefully, and upright, about 10 feet away. The keyword is upright.

Understandably, my four-year-old brother was not too keen on being flung helplessly through the air by my feet, and he refused to let me test my launch capabilities on him. Since he was the smallest kid in the group and I was the second smallest, there was no one else I could play with. Why does he always have to be such a baby? After arguing with him for a while – as a young boy this means throwing demeaning insults his way – and trying to convince him he wouldn’t get hurt, I gave up and went inside to watch some TV. What could possibly go wrong?

Once inside however, I refused to waiver in my coercion techniques. During commercial breaks I used all of my advanced seven-year-old name calling tactics that usually worked on Danny when I wanted him to go along with one of my little schemes. I called him a wuss, a baby, a scaredy cat, and a slew of other tried and true names that kids use on one another to play on their fear of being too young to do something in life. Our mother half-heartedly scolded me from the couch on my crude behavior, but eventually it worked and he caved. They were both tired of hearing my voice. Just wait till everyone sees how cool this is…

Grinning from ear to ear because I had got what I wanted, I assumed the position in the center of the living room and my wary little brother eased his backside onto my waiting feet. The countdown was initiated… 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. BOOM! I thrusted my legs up as hard as I possibly could, just as instructed. There was quite a bit of up however, and not a whole lot of out. He was also much lighter than I originally anticipated. Coincidentally, it’s the forward and outward motion that is truly pivotal if your goal is to get your flailing little bro to land on his feet instead of his neck…

He went straight up. He came straight down. Woah. His neck and head hit the ground first and hit it hard, followed by the rest of his body buckling down on top of him and causing further contortion of his spine. The look of shock and awe upon my face must have been laughable if you were unaware of the seriousness of the situation I now found myself in. Danny had just enough time to emit a blood-curdling scream, roll over and off his neck, grab my dirty barefoot, and sink his teeth as far as he could into it before his eyes rolled back into his head and he passed out. To this day, we really have no explanation for this unexpected biting move on his part, except that maybe it was a defensive retaliation for his sudden pain.

I was frozen in utter stupor. Mom moved like her hair was on fire. She picked up his limp body and screamed for my aunt to come downstairs and call 911. He looks dead. My brain instantly registered a massive amount of fear, took over control of my body, and made me move. It did the only thing it knew how to do, which was hide, and I did it behind the couch. I squeezed into the space and began hoping it would all just go away. Of course it didn’t work and a few minutes later my aunt and I stood staring out the front door as the flashing lights turned the corner and disappeared. He’s dead. I’m dead.

I awoke very early the next morning and slipped out of my bed in the room that Danny and I shared. Once upon a time, before I killed him. It was still dark but I could see that his bed remained empty. I silently opened our bedroom door and crept along the wall toward my mother’s room. The whole apartment was dark and quiet and my footsteps were louder than I would have liked. I peaked around the door and saw two lumps under the covers of her bed. She must have heard me and turned her head to look at me… she motioned for me to come closer and whispered that everything was going to be okay. The other lump was Danny sporting a brand new foam neck brace. It was just a precaution, as he had a few strained neck muscles. No bones sticking through his neck. She told me to get back to bed and I did what I was told.

This wouldn’t be the last time I would accidentally cause my brother life-threatening injury…