Alida Salins '09
All I can really remember is the lifting feeling in my chest, like in the moment when mountains are suddenly visible through a break in the trees. Of course, this happened before mountains, when all I knew was long driveways and sticky maple seeds and my brother. The two of us, we would have competitions jumping off his bed. He was older by four years, still is, I suppose, and my parents could afford only one box spring. While he was at school, a dull ache accumulating in his limbs, I would sneak into his room and practice. Our parents shuffling around the kitchen: my small-boned mother mildly worried about germs or wrinkles or Russian literature, my father planning Sunday’s sermon, or just mildly contemplating dust motes in a stream of sunlight. They would never suspect. One day I jumped off, soared, and very nearly landed. Instead I kept going forward, not down, as if I’d snagged my ribs on some laundry line in the air. It pulled me around the corner all the way to the door before I dropped with a start at sounds from downstairs. I felt a little like Jesus. I was pretty sure that with his soft eyes and open palms, Jesus had done similar things. Or maybe Wiley Coyote. My points of reference were not that extensive. I always label this memory as true when I file it away, yet in it I am never the small and suspicious 5-year-old that I was. In my mind it’s always present me, or me in my awkward adolescence, when my brother was absent from school more often than not; a period of time particularly noted for the night when my father had to take an axe to that same door, so now the new one opens out, instead of in. I’d told Mama about flying on the first day of kindergarten while waiting for the bus. I remember it in English but I know we didn’t speak English at home. Mama laughed. Or maybe cried. She had beautiful children full of picturesque ideas. She brimmed with feelings like love or pride. I told Andrejs about it years later, when we had finally become not only siblings but almost friends.
He just squinted his grey eyes and nodded. It was like there was something about the impossible that echoed, something that made staring at the cracks in the walls of his apartment look a little less like the years he spent watching paint chip off the walls of fancy places like Sagamore Children’s Psychiatric Center. Something that made the ever-present past a little more distant. It was like how we used to trick our dear parents by pretending I was being strangled, feet dangling in the air, my hands safely grasped onto his forearms. It wasn’t really happening, but it could be, and if you twisted around just a little, sometimes it was.