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Impressions of Life
Around the time I was ten, my family and I visit the Washington D.C. zoo. I puke next to the bench outside the reptile house.
Around the time I am nine, I meet a boy named Paul who sits with his back to the red brick wall and reads during recess. Another year goes by and he gets the lead part in the school musical even though he is only in fourth grade.
Around the time I am two, my dad tries to teach me how to make the “v” sound. I try for what seems to be hours, but can’t get it. I go up to my dad the next morning and say “vacuum”, without even a hint of the “b” sound.
Around the time I am seven, I go horse-back riding at a family reunion. My rather large extended family and I ride the smelly horses through the shady woods and come back with hundreds of little red bumps all over our bodies.
Around the time I am six, I play shadow puppets with my sister during Typhoon Pongsona. The house is almost completely black from the power outage except for the flashlight we are using. My sister makes a bunny shadow, and I make a dog that eats the poor rabbit.
Around the time I am three, my joy school class is given string cheese for our snack. One girl in the class can peel her string cheese, but no matter how hard I try, mine won’t come out in long, skinny strips like hers.
Around the time I am eleven, I decide to learn how to play “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson like my mom. It takes me about ten minutes to play the first measure, but by the second or third hour at the piano bench, I have the whole first page figured out. I show my piano teacher, who tells me to wait a few years.
Around the time I am nine, my dad saws down the crab-apple tree in our backyard. We put a large raised garden there instead, full of soil and worm poop that I mix with my feet.
Around the time I am ten, my sister and I make breakfast in bed for my mother on Mother’s Day. Half the pancakes turn out gooey, and half are black as char. We decide that the two will even out each other if we stack them on top of each other.
Around the time I am five, a chubby African-American girl yells at the kindergartners crowding the slide to get off so I can have a turn. She immediately becomes my hero.
Around the time I am four, I cut my foot on a piece of glass. My dad tries to mop up the gushing blood with folded paper towels, but after about twenty minutes, he finally gives into my mom and takes me to the emergency room. When I get back, my dad carries me up to my bedroom so I don’t have to climb the stairs.
Around the time I am ten, my uncle Doug moves into our basement and brings his giant blue bean bag.
Around the time I am six, I stand on a rocking chair to see my sister Rachel. The slanting chair tips dangerously close to the air mask enclosing the newest, tiniest, pinkest member of my family, and I am worried that it will tip over and crush her.
Around the time I am two, my dad and I kneel next to my bed and say our prayers together. My dad tells me he used to pray with his father at night.
Around the time I am nine, my mom is the elementary school choir director and I have to sing in the choir. We learn “Silent Night” in German, and it remains my favorite version of the song.
Around the time I am eight, I watch a Pinewood Derby race in which my great-uncle enters a car with explosives attached to it. He keeps winning until the explosives stop working.
Around the time I am nine, my cousins and I slide down the wooden stairs on a foam sled into a pile of pillows.
Around the time I am ten, my mom forgets to leave the cooler outside the front door, so when I get the milk that morning, it is frozen. We have icicles in our cereal.