For some reason this summer, I have been thinking a lot on the year 1997. It was rather a big year for me, but it was strange that I should be thinking on things. It has been twenty years, but I hadn’t realized that until I started wondering why these things kept flooding back to me. It would happen while on a drive in the car, remember a street I’d driven down and with whom, or passing a building that was of significance or some other such thing. Sure that seems logical that passing tangible things would recall these memories, only it’s odd. I still live in the same town that I did all those years ago. I drive down these roads and pass these buildings on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for the past decades. Does my brain just realize that it’s been twenty years and figures that it is an important lapse of time?
I certainly feel like I am forgetting things, but these are all that have sprung to mind this summer.
4. June: Summer School Registration & New Kitten
I remember this clearly because I didn’t want to miss the kittens being born, but Seraphina (our cat) didn’t end up having her kittens until after I’d gotten back home from registration. And, while kittens were born at our house, we gave all of them away to good homes…except my dear Bao-Bao. Since this was her birthday, how could I forget that. You would think I would be thinking strongly on her day of birth after she passed away three years ago in February. I did, but not as much as it’s been coming to mind this summer.
Perhaps you’ve had a cat like this. While all of our cats are treated as family members and not merely pets, Bao-Bao was the cat that shared everything with me and was with me through my toughest times. It’s always heartbreakingly sorrowful when one of our cats dies, but she’s the one that made things feel a little empty for a time, with her death a lot of things untangled. I didn’t realize that people have Bao-Bao’s, until one friend lost her Bao-Bao the same year and another lost her Bao-Bao this year. No words were needed really to describe the relationship, which suits since it’s entirely too difficult to actually explain this to people who don’t understand. But phrases like, “she’d been with me through all of these years.” and some brief line about how torn up they are over it or that they don’t wish to talk about it or be disturbed. Where other people thought, “OK their cat died, that’s sad, but…”, I knew exactly what it meant.
She was part Russian Blue & part Siamese (the silver & white kind). She was so fat as a baby kitten, she would try to walk and would just roll around, so that I took to calling her my Little Rolly-Polly. As she grew into a more independent kitten she didn’t like the name. I was reading The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan at the time, and had tried 15 or so names by this time, but a boy in the book, his family called him Bao-Bao (Bow as in you are bowing to someone, not as in aa hair bow.) since his baby time, and they were still using the nick-name; I tried that one for her, and that’s the name she finally chose. She was highly intelligent, unlike her Siamese dad and more so than her mom. We even celebrated when that baby panda was born at some US zoo and the keepers had named it Bao-Bao. “There’s a famous panda with your name, Baody!” Which was a nickname I gave her early on (Bow-dee).
June-July: Attending Summer School
This gets it’s own section because there were some important factors. I was in summer school for failing Algebra I the previous year. Summer school was a freaking breeze! We learned a couple of easy things for the first week or so and then the rest of the time was doing whatever we wanted. I actually gave tarot card and rune readings to the few friends that I’d made in my class. The teacher thought it was fun and had me give her readings and then sent me around the school to give readings to her sister and other teacher friends. OK.. sure hehe But, that wasn’t the point of this bit. Zack McKenzie was really the main point. He was a grade younger at my school and I’d wanted to be friends with him the previous year, but it didn’t happen. He was in my summer school math class and we absolutely clicked and became BFFs that summer. Afterwards we were thick as thieves, always over at each other’s houses; watching The Teletubbies or Blue’s Clues; commenting about epi’s next time we saw each other, ditching school together and joyriding around. For the next year and a half it was great and then one day he just wouldn’t have anything to do with me & losing his friendship really tore me up.
The other bit, was the other guy in that math class whom I became friends with. B.J. Dean. He went to a different school than me and three of his mates were stuck in summer school English. He told me they were the only guys at their school, way out in the middle of nowhere, who had long hair. He was a year older than I and we got on well though we never hung out away from class, though if he saw me out and about, he’d smile at me and say hi and we’d catch up. He was really super nice. I mention him because he died two years ago. I hadn’t seen him since perhaps 1999, but he had married that girl he’d been dating at the time and they had two kids. He’d become a cop here in town.
When the two cops were killed, I found it sad, especially because that sort of thing doesn’t happen here, but it didn’t effect me personally, so that was that. Then someone shared a photo of the one cop from high school. It was him. It was that guy who’d been so swell to me at summer school. And then, well things were really upsetting. But see I’d already done all of this remembering two years ago when he died, so why does my brain want to relive it on the 20th anniversary of when I met him? By the way, that’s him in the center in the photo with three people, and then his officer picture is the top left of the Fallen Officers Wall at the local precinct. Also, that top photo is of the high school where we all attended summer school together.
15. August: Opening A Coffee House… In Our Basement
My mom and sister decided to open a coffee house in our basement, and they wanted it to open on the Holy Feast Day of the Assumption, or else I wouldn’t remember the exact date. It wasn’t a religious place, just my mom made the opening date religiousy because she’s weird. That’s me in our coffee house, The Cubbyhole, in 1997 (I don’t recall the guys behind me). A few of my friends and I helped paint things and getting ready for the opening night, which I remember happened my first day back at school; my junior year. I only remember because I was excited to tell my theatre teacher about it and thought she might come to the opening night. She didn’t. She wasn’t there at start of term. She was in hospital and would never know about the business endeavour. Which leads me into my next point.
18. September: My 17th Birthday
I arrived to school that morning and perhaps ten minutes into my first class of the day, all of the theatre students were called to the library. Our teacher had passed away an hour before. They had therapists there to help us grieve. I wanted to be in peace, but no one would leave me alone, wanting to check that I wasn’t killing myself in the bathroom stall… with a writing pen or a massive paper cut from hell, I suppose? So, then I just left school and went to my sisters house and took a shower and cried. Luckily I was really good friends were her college roommates. It was the worst birthday I’ve probably ever had. It might seem weird to be so upset over a teacher, but I’d known her since my sister had attended high school and was in theatre (since 1989). She would have been proud of us for opening that coffee house, would have wanted to see my sister (who had already visited my class since moving back home). She was a really cool teacher and she was really missed by all that really knew her (theatre kids, fellow teachers, friends of hers).
There have been other memories to flit through my mind this summer, driving back alleys in town with my best girlfriend and her poking fun at the fact that I know all the streets.
That I’d been nervous to take Chemistry, but wanted to take Advanced Biology in my senior year, so I started taking all the classe I’d need to qualify (which is how I ended up in summer school because one requirement was Algebra) with Chem I being one of them. I started that class this autumn twenty years ago, and had the second highest grade in that class. I was quite good at it actually. Then remembering how I never did get the chance to take Advanced Bio, because my mother fanangled it so I’d graduate early, which I was not keen on.
Remembering how B.J. Would hang out with his friends before classes would start or during our class break during the day, and one guy I thought was super fine. B.J. And I were kind of dark skinned white people; you know they’re white but they have something in their ancestry, so we’re a shade of brown (and not pink, peach, or white), but you wouldn’t think we were something other than Caucasian really. One of his friends was part Latino and you would say he was Latino and not white. I promise this has a point. So, the mate of his that I thought was mad hot? He had long blonde hair, and light olive peachy skin, and this fantastic nose. I’m not much for noses, but his was the spitting image of carvings from Aztec temples, like his profile was very ancient Aztec man. But, I’m thinking that I’m fairly certain he isn’t Latin American at all. And it’s not a Roman nose. He was so wonderfully odd looking that I found him extremely attractive, not like a typical white guy at all. Somehow B.J. Was discussing it with me, I didn’t prompt him about his friend (whose name I did know at the time, but have long since forgotten), and he stated that he was part Middle Eastern. (Ah-ha! So that’s where his wonderfully non-white nose/profile came from!). He stated it in a defensive manner, like he didn’t want me to ridicule his friend for being Middle Eastern, like he’d had to deal with the backlash the entire time he’d known his friend and rightly so, didn’t like other people’s views or treatments of him. But, I’m not that type of person. I am the type to think that’s cool, but not to judge or hate someone because of it.
Or wondering why Zack and I, as 15-17 year olds would enjoy baby shows like The Teletubbies or Blue’s Clues, but am glad that we were both the same kind of quirky to find enjoyment and humor in them. We’d even break out in ran dome Blue’s Clues songs, like the Mail Time song, or the We Are Gonna Play Blue’s Clues song, or the Solar System song). Our favourite Teletubby was Po, the red one, and I remember how after one particularly awesome epi of Blue’s Clues, one of us rang up the other on the telephone to discuss how we were there during Baby Paprika’s birth. We even had our own official Blue’s Clues notepads and green stripe crayons. The show wasn’t the same when Steve left though.
You know, perhaps this one I can answer. Perhaps it’s the one that started this tromp down memory lane for me. I’ve seen things shared about Steve Burns before (perhaps 5 years ago), but this summer things about him have been coming up in my news feed rather a lot. And then there was a bit on Baby Sun (the girl that played the Baby Sun on the Tellytubbies) being all grown up now. Baby Sun and a lot of Blue’s Clue’s references back in June could explain how my brain started focusing on Zack, and then how we first became friends, and then everything else that happened around the same time. And then BAM here we are with a lot of seemingly random memories that all happened right about now, only twenty years in the past.