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Conflict resolution at age 10.

June 14, 2016

June 14 @1411

“Tell me a story!”

I fought the urge to shout ‘fuck you.’  Instead, I unrolled my life in my mind.  I catch fleeting glimpses of my sunny childhood with its hours of playing upstairs in my brother’s room, a room I was forbidden from entering.  Of course I entered it every chance I got.

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Gunther

What did Tom’s room look like?  It was long and low with slant roof and kneewalls.  The floor was pine, painted brown.  The walls were some sort of fiberboard.  I have a couple pictures of it I took when I was in the fifth or sixth grade.  The blue curtains on the windows at the end of the room looked like they had sliced bananas.  I suppose they were really flowers.  It’d be fun to see what the place looks like now.  Perhaps I’ll knock on the door next time I’m in Missoula.

Wilborn, Struckman, Fitzpatrick 1960

Then there were the endless days of trying to build a clubhouse for my friends and me.  Trouble is, we couldn’t saw or hammer nails accurately so we always ended up with some sort of garbage that looked like a bunch of boards precariously leaning against each other.  How do you get a play house to stand up so you can nail boards?  I had an inspiration.  What if we pounded four long stakes into the ground, then nailed the walls to the stakes?  I suggested that to my friend from across the alley.  “Naw,” he said.  “That kind of thing doesn’t work.”  And that was the end of that.  I had invented the pole barn and I had let my little friend talk me out of even trying to do it.

I unroll my mind further, and I remember chasing my friend around in his basement.  We spent many hours playing in his basement, mostly playing cowboys and Indians.  I was always the Indian because my friend had some nice toy pistols.  We were racists.  My brother wanted to grow up to be an Indian, so I had that secret that allowed me to play the part of the Indian.  If my brother wanted to grow up to be one, one must be good, I reasoned.  We had a good system of checks and balances.  If my friend got too bossy, I’d simply tell him that I quit and I was going home.  He would invariably wheedle and beg me to stay, promising not to be such an asshole.  Worked every time.

We—my friend and I— spent hours in my back yard digging holes in a garden area in the corner.  We wanted to dig a well.  Or we wanted to dig all the way to China.  Or we wanted to find the body of Smokey, our cat.  I figured he was about two feet underground, but we could never find the spot to dig.  We dug all around without success.

As murky as the past has grown, the present is not murky at all.  Right now I can hear my dog, Gunther, barking at the back fence.  He can see through the cracks between the cedar boards back there.  I don’t know if someone is lurking in the alley or if he is barking at the two labradors on the other side.  Also, a couple of men are rebuilding the house over there.  I think they want to flip that house.  The fan in the ceiling is roaring away.  Becky lives up in the attic and it’s hotter than Hell up there, usually.  I really don’t want to go check it out.

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The past.  The past I can experience goes before I was born, back about 150 years, when my great grandpa was in the Civil War.  Now I don’t feel so good about war.  Not like I did when I was a kid.  I didn’t question the need for wars then.  Now I do.  Violence only gets more violence, obviously.

 

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