I was four when I left Chicago. I was 25 when I came back and just left it a few hours ago.
Before we left, I visited the most vivid source of memories: my old daycare which happened to be situated right next to my mom’s place of employment. My mom’s place of employment might as well have been Helsinki as I NEVER got to see her, for one joyous moment and probably at the end of the day.
When I look back at my photo albums at that daycare, I see pictures of a white kid who always had bruises on his lips. I was the smallest, reddest kid in one class picture dressed up in some kind of nascar jumpsuit. I was the color of a sore thumb.
There are a few bits I remember:
-I remember seeing some kid reach for a sink and pour his milk down the drain. I did the same, a scalding white woman’s voice told me “next time, you’re going to drink that.” Winks to a fat chink. Oops not supposed to be playing below the belt, but I just did.
-I know I remember seeing Dunkin’ Donuts all the time. Ain’t none of that shit in LA, and so every time I visit the East, I naturally ask about it. Without any flinching the universal first-response is “oh, they have good coffee.”
-Unable to sleep like the other kids during nap time
-Some giant lurch-like woman asked about me one time…I’ve seen her in my albums
-Lincoln log cabins
-Sliding down and looking straight ahead at a 2-story parking structure
-In that 2-story parking structure, I was driving with my Tita Med. She was scary!
-Saw my mom at my preschool graduation, I wanted to run to her, I actually thought it was a chance to escape from this place of strangers
Nothing lasts longer than a flash of 10 seconds in those memories, but they came back as vividly as before. I don’t believe I saw the Resurrection Hospital logo for a while, but as soon as Erik of the Writers Workshop showed me again, it triggered flash images of a faint reddish Buick my dad had driven around town with and the accident that led us getting a Mazda 626 with the latest in automatic front seat-belts.
21 years later, I am the youngest, reddest kid in a picture dressed up in some kind of Indiana Jones gear. I am the color of a sore thumb.
By chance, before we passed my mom’s old job/my daycare, we passed the hospital of my Catholic baptism, and I think, my parents marriage. It was the only beaten down-looking Church I had seen. The first thing to its side in the parking lot was a chart about how much money they needed to raise to save it. It seems like they needed more than Jesus’ return to save that physical space. But no matter, even as a non-practicing Catholic agnostic, that church, containing certain events and people, has a permament place in the recesses of my early mind.
Shaking off the nostalgia, I finally asked some churchgoers where the hospital was, the hosptial where my mom worked and where, I stayed…they said…”Resurrection, that’s around the corner.”