I Can Write This Because You Said You Were Proud of Me

Here’s some non-fiction
the Manuel’s are a family of five
my sister is older than I by four years
my brother was younger by four too
my father wears a blue collar
this is a story about my mother
because I always wondered how she handled it.

Here’s some non-fiction
my earliest memory is on a two person bike
the only memory I have
on a two person bike.
I don’t know where exactly – we moved around a lot.
Early on in the story from lease to lease
later on in the story from state to state
as Dad moved around
from job to job.
Each home distinctly cement-like
as I would chase the pavements
and bother the neighbors
to form a new band of street kids
and war with each other – harmlessly
with Styrofoam swords.
Because street kids aren’t what you think they are.
This process I’d repeat, over and over
it’s a blurry thought
when asked where I come from
where is home
who my childhood friends are
the question seems alien.
Instead I wonder.
How did Mum handle this?

Here’s some non-fiction
I’ve always loved school.
I never considered myself a loner
what a nonsense thought
perhaps it was the constant moving
encouraging me to view peers as fellow movie-goers
rather than people
you go to the movies with.
Here’s some non-fiction.
The school is concerned
very concerned
–Mrs Manuel it has come to our attention that your son, Jordon. In our very very, extremely non-fallible scientific and definitely correct opinion needs specialized help–
Here’s some non-fiction.
I’d meet mum during lunchtime at school
and get really excited
because there’s this hotdog stand in the city
that makes really good hotdogs
and I’d always get one
on our way to therapy.

Here’s some non-fiction.
Therapy was actually a lot of fun
it is exactly a haven
for the ADHD self
and I got to spend time with Mum.
It was a wonderful getaway
from a school that lacks patience
and psychiatrists
who are way too keen to drug children.

Here’s some non-fiction
I don’t quite remember the rest of primary school.
I only remember therapy
and the Dojo.
I started Karate when I was seven
I adored the art
so mum would take me almost every day
to three separate Dojos
along with the therapy sessions
three days a week
and walk me home from school
and feed two other children.
It’s at this point in the story
I realize
everyone ate toast and noodle sandwiches
so that I could have hotdogs
and punch the air.
How was Mum handling this?

Here’s some non-fiction
my brother was joy
if joy was allowed a human form.
He’d collect coins
in a metal cookie tin
and shake it around with a smile
allowing the rattle to state
how wealthy he was.

Here’s some non-fiction.
I don’t have many more memories
of my brother
trying to restart his five year old heart
and the neighborhood retired to the curb
because everyone knew the street kids
and for the first time
I wondered how Mum was handling this.

Here’s some non-fiction
we all went to therapy.
And it is confusing
feeling so much nothing
for years
and trying to tell someone
about that nothing.
It takes a decade
before the concept of losing someone
makes even the slightest sense.
Before it softens into a malleable thought
that can be entertained.
My father has a motto
“one foot in front of the other”
I remember hearing him
amble down the stairs
almost tripping
and saying
“what’s the worst that can happen? I can only fall and break my neck”
And I start to wonder
how is Mum handling this?

Because none of us were.

Here’s some non-fiction
somehow me made it out alive.
We moved again
to a new place
to try again
in Geraldton.

Here’s some non-fiction.
I stopped being a street kid
at least openly.
And I had many quarrels with my mother
about the case of freedom.

Here’s some non-fiction.
My episodic memory of early high school
is mostly
learning how to be a fucking human.
And it went well
through no fault of my own
and entirely due to Mum.

Eventually Mum grew tired of grounding me for sneaking out of the house:
to skate
or drink
play with explosives
or other volatile chemicals
and loiter
to generally exist
as the apathetic self.
So we came to an agreement
one of honesty
one of counsel.
And I don’t think I’ve ever argued with Mum since then.
I’m in awe of how well she handled this.

Here’s some non-fiction
I was caught in a gas explosion
when I was sixteen
because I got my hands on some canisters
and couldn’t wait to see how they flare.
I have never been in more pain
nor do I think I ever will be again
the feeling of hot shrapnel
embedded in your face
is disturbing
and sickening to the soul.
I remember begging the doctors
to render me unconscious
I only stopped
when I saw my mother
squeezing my hand.
She drove me to Perth
so that I would have a face.
I was discharged from the hospital
and placed on the first flight to Melbourne
because I had begged and begged
to still be allowed to compete
in the national championships.
Standing on the podium, I had to wonder.
How was she handling this?

Here’s some non-fiction
Mums specialty – toast
and I mean that sincerely
I could never make it quite the same myself.

Here’s some non-fiction
I woke up on the curb
outside of Target Geraldton
because a passerby
had seen a high-school boy
having a seizure.
I was told I was hit
by a car on the corner
which is disturbingly forthcoming
when you think about it.
I remember being on a plane
which plane? I’m not so sure.
My brain was swollen.
I just remember landing
and being rushed to emergency Perth

and seeing my Mum.

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