Owen is watching and I’m mostly listening to American Gangster. It’s the movie with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe about the rise of Frank Lucas, a drug dealer in Harlem during the 1970’s.  The movie begins in 1968 after Lucas’s drug dealing mentor has died. I started thinking about what I was doing that year.

That year the constant abuse ended because my father went into a mental institution and my mother’s bum of the moment went to prison. My mother always became more abusive when she was around her loser men.

In 1968, when the scummy riffraff  went away, I was 6 years old in first grade, and afraid of my teacher Miss Lux.  Miss Lux always carried a ruler for knuckle cracking. Miss Lux  had no eyebrows. She just drew two straight pencil lines above her eyes, probably for effect. It worked. That classroom was  so so silent. All I remember hearing is pencils scratching and pages turning. We were learning how to read using  Dick and Jane.

I don’t know if first grade was when I learned to read. I’ve always loved to read, but in my family no one read themselves or read to children. Last month I bought myself some children’s books. I got Henny Penny, If the Moon Could Talk, and Each Kindness. I had had them from the library and wanted to have them all the time. It was the first time I ever did that for myself. I also read to myself now and thoroughly enjoy it, but I don’t understand how that works. What I mean is I can hear my older self reading to my younger self. I can feel joy coming from my younger self. Oh this is so exciting!

Back to 1968. That year we moved and had no presents for Christmas. I remember staying awake listening for Santa’s sleigh bells, but they never came. I realized there was no Santa and fell asleep.