Author’s Note: This is yet another wonderful prompt from Bonnie Neubauer’s Write Brain Workbook – I highly recommend all of Ms. Neubauer’s prompt books regardless of where you are in your creative writing journey. I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to hold a pencil and write sentences, and I find this book an amazing inspiration. This prompt offers a list of four words as a starting point for four unrelated paragraphs. You start each one with “I wasn’t…” and go from there. I particularly loved this series of words because they took me right back to my childhood.
I wasn’t the most graceful child when I was younger, and my knees were always in a state of scabby, bruised and scarred pain as a result. I loved to roller skate and spent many hours at the local rink with my sister, and my knees paid the ultimate price. I always managed to fall and land splay-legged so the inside of my knees hit the floor first. That usually gave me nasty purple and green eggs that were sometimes swollen enough it hurt to bend my knees. That wasn’t the only way I tortured my kneecaps – I was also quite good at skinning them. Most of the time, I scraped a layer of skin off of them by falling off my bike, and I also found other more creative ways to nearly cripple myself. One memorable moment occurred at the beach which I was about 8 or 9. We had just gotten to the hotel and my sister and I jumped out of the car to see the ocean. I know I was excited, but I must have been a bit too hyper because I didn’t watch where I was going and tripped over the parking curb, landing right on my knee. I remember how badly it hurt when I went in the ocean, but was that the last time I did something like that on vacation? Of course not! My worst knee/leg/right side beach injury occurred in 2010, when I was 36 – I was at an outdoor mall with my family and I walked over to look at the carp in the lagoon. I was too old to be hyperactive, but not to be unobservant. I didn’t notice a big concrete planter and when I turned around, I tripped over it and landed on my back. Most of the skin on my right knee and inner thigh ended up on the planter and the boardwalk. When I got my wits back, I limped into the restaurant where we were headed and went to the bathroom to clean up. I took some Advil and was sore for the rest of the trip, but given how badly that could have gone, a skinned knee and thigh was bearable.
I wasn’t prepared to find myself in the backwoods of Georgia while on vacation in 2016, but that was the first time my husband and I went to Hilton Head, and not knowing how to plan the trip, we flew to Atlanta and drove to the island from there. We had to take a bathroom break and stopped in Vidalia, a town whose name is recognized worldwide as the Mecca of sweet onions. Something about the soil in Vidalia makes onions grown there taste very sweet and mellow, and as a child, I always ate the less sulfurous Vidalia – in fact, I don’t think I ate a red onion until I was in my 30’s. When we took the exit, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere; the only sign of life was a restaurant that looked like it was about to fall into the ground next to a gas station which had a sign proclaiming we were in Sweet Onion Junction. We used the bathroom and bought a bottle of water at the gas station before heading back out on the highway. It was a nice place to take a stretch break, but if it wasn’t for the town’s namesake onions ,I’m pretty sure nobody would ever know Vidalia, Georgia exists.
I wasn’t ever one to suffer from FOMO- fear of missing out- even as a child. I never asked my parents for the hottest toys at Christmas because I didn’t want them to feel bad if they couldn’t find them, and when I had my allowance money in my piggy bank, I didn’t want to just spend it to say I bought something with it. I’ve never really been into trends, fashion or otherwise, so I’ve never found myself in a tizzy to buy the latest thing, nor have I ever freaked out if I haven’t been able to buy something before it sells out. I don’t like it when companies create false FOMO by over-hyping a product and intentionally releasing only a small quantity of it. That just somehow seems scumbucket-y to me. It happens a lot within the fountain pen community and I can say there hasn’t been a single limited edition pen I’ve felt like I absolutely had to have — I’d rather plan to add a pen to my collection that I know I truly want than to buy something just to say I have it. I’ve always been frugal and I suppose that keeps me from suffering from FOMO.
I wasn’t ever cut out to be an astronomer with my less than stellar (ha- see what I did there?) math and science skills, but I loved astronomy as a teenager all the same. I read Sky and Telescope and Astronomy magazines and would cut out my favorite pictures and articles and post them on the corkboard on the back of my bedroom door. The summer before my senior year in high school, I dated a guy whose dad was the head park ranger at a local state park, and when I wanted to watch the Perseid meteor shower that August, we sat out in his front yard, as that was the darkest place around. I could care less about the guy now, but I’ll always remember the feeling of awe I had when I looked up and watched the diaphanous streaks crossing the sky, wondering if I’d really seen what I thought I saw, or if they were just tricks of my imagination. I felt so small and still have that same sense of wonder when I look at the night sky today.