I remember when I broke out in a rash, an unfortunate allergic reaction to penicillin. My dad took me to the doctor–I was seventeen–and said he had it too. “I got blisters everywhere, even on my penis,” except in his Chinese accent, it sounded like “pennis.”
I remember Mr. Conway, my eighth grade English teacher, who sent me a photo of himself and inscribed it: “Here’s a target for your darts.”
I remember a boy sent me flowers when I was eighteen, my first semester in college. My dad laughed as he handed them over. “Secret admirer, huh, girl?” He acted like it was a prank.
I remember my brother used to blow his nose on dirty socks he found in his covers.
I remember taking a photograph of every present my twin sister and I got the year we turned fourteen. The photos were out of focus and my father lectured us on the best way to operate a camera.
I remember drinking grape soda that I bought from the vending machine in my mother’s apartment complex laundry room. I would crack the can open just a little then let the soda spill over the top of the can. I’d drink it that way, from the lip, until I’d gotten halfway through.
I remember cold, wet towels on my pillow to combat my father’s resistance to using the air conditioning.
I remember slamming my sister’s hand in the car door.
I remember when she swallowed a fish bone at a picnic and my father stuffed slice after slice of bread in her mouth.
I remember jelly shoes and snap bracelets and white jeans–and that I never got to have them.
I remember tap dancing in matching outfits with my twin sister for our fifth grade talent show to the song “She Drives Me Crazy.”
I remember the smell of freshly-baked oatmeal cookies, the Quaker Oats recipe. Once, we used double the amount of salt it called for.
I remember the roughness of Gene’s hands before he went away for good. He was my mother’s best friend and now he’s her worst enemy.
I remember the morning I stepped in my sister’s vomit. We’d had too rare steak the night before.
I remember learning how to drive. My father used plastic forks and index cards on our glass coffee table to illustrate how to park in a grocery store lot.
I remember my father’s peanut butter noodles.
I remember falling asleep to the peal of my mother’s laughter when she watched Roseanne. She laughed until she cried.
I remember sitting with a giraffe in the faculty lounge of my elementary school. It was made out of papier mache.
I remember speaking the Thought of the Day over the intercom when I was eight. “Is this on?” I asked the entire elementary school before I began.
I remember trying to make a phone call on a rotary phone. It was in a closet and I couldn’t figure out how to use it before I started to cry.
I remember going through labor. It felt as if a superhuman was tearing my body apart from the base of my spine.
I remember the smell of disinfectant and medicinal lotion. I’d contracted lupus, a word I grew to hate.
I remember chicken broth my stepmother brought to my hospital room and my father spoon-fed me.
I remember the sharp taste of ginger, which my mother put in our food without warning.
I remember the whole garlic cloves hidden in the bowls of rice my father served us.
I remember teaching myself how to cook and getting it wrong.
I remember the sound of my first cell phone It rang like the phones in black-and-white movies. It was shiny and teal and reminded me of Hollywood.
I remember the way that brown and teal shirt would slip in between my legs if a breeze caught it just right. I was becoming a woman.
I remember wearing super-tight pants, another shade of teal, long before I had a belly that would make them too uncomfortable.
I remember my first formal dance, shopping all day with my mother for a dress the weekend before. I chose a long black dress that looked like a Morticia Halloween costume.
I remember the color red.
I remember Switzerland, but I barely remember how I came to be married there.
I remember dates.
I remember hiding receipts with my birthday printed on them in a small collegiate dictionary. It was where I also slipped the petals of flowers gifted to me throughout my adolescence.
I remember my first ATM withdrawal, the feel of those crisp dollar bills. I never wanted to spend them.
I remember collecting notepads and pens, the smell of lumber in Builder’s Square, the delicious experience of opening a Kit Kat wrapper, and the sound of a Mountain Dew as I drank it.
I remember my father crying. It sounded like he was laughing.
I remember my brother punching a hole in the wall of his bedroom. My chest ached because I knew I was next.
I remember the men I shouldn’t have trusted. The men I wish I could forget.