When I was 10 my family went to see my half brother and sister and their mother. I had seen pictures of us together when I was younger, but I was very suspicious of them. I knew they were related to me, but I had no recollection of them.
Who were these people claiming to be my family?
I would have been miserably bored on this visit, except that I had two new presents to occupy my mind. My mother had bought me my first diary. It was a small child’s diary with a photo of two white horses on the cover.
I was never one of those girls that liked horses. In fact, I was, and still am afraid of them. And they don’t like me either. I don’t know why my mother picked that cover out for me. But it didn’t matter. It was a real journal with a really shitty lock and key.
She had also bought me my first Walkman, which was life changing for me. And it came with a cassette tape. Paul Abdul’s Forever Your Girl. I didn’t particularly like Paula Abdul then or now.
But I listened to that tape until it got warped and creepy sounding. Like a talking doll whose batteries are slowly dying. And even though that was 20 years ago, I still know every word to every song on that fucking album.
I’ll never know what prompted my mother to buy me what was to become the two most important items of my youth. I had certainly never mentioned wanting a diary or a Walkman. But even at that age had a passion for both writing an d music. Maybe she thought it was something that would be a quiet distraction for me. She couldn’t have known how much journaling would affect my life.
I spent the family weekend with my headphones on and my face in my journal. Which was to become my new look for the rest of my youth.
At one point everyone wanted to go on a trip to somewhere. I honestly don’t remember where. It’s possible that I didn’t even hear where everyone was going over “Cold Hearted Snake.”
But I didn’t want to go. I couldn’t be convinced or cajoled into it. And since I was 10, my parents didn’t want to leave me alone in a stranger’s house. So my mother decided to stay behind while everyone else went out.
She was inside working on a crossword puzzle and I was out in the yard writing and singing. I somehow came to the conclusion that I should attempt to climb the palm tree I was leaned against. I don’t know where that idea came from or why it even occurred to me.
So, I began climbing up the spines of the palm tree. I don’t know how they held me to even climb up. But I was young and very, very thin. I’m sure most of you have seen palm trees, but maybe not up close.
I am afraid of heights and yet had absolutely no issues climbing higher and higher. It was fun. Like climbing the beanstalk from Jack and the Beanstalk. The spines made a very surprisingly easy to climb ladder. It was so easy that I lost track of how high I was getting. Little did I know that I was like Icarus, flying too close to the sun.
When I finally stopped and looked down, I was about 40 feet off the ground. I froze. I was really high up. I had never been up so high in a tree. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think I could get down on my own.
I stayed like that for a few minutes. I didn’t want to call my mother for help. I didn’t want to bother her and I knew she would get mad.
I waited and waited until I finally stopped feeling so afraid and decided to try to climb back down on my own. Climbing down is always harder and more dangerous than climbing up. Unfortunately I waited too long and my muscles were exhausted. My arms and legs were shaking with both fear and muscle strain.
I lost my grip and fell the almost entire way down. I somehow landed without breaking any bones. But I had hurt my arm. It felt raw and scraped up and sort of burning.
When I looked down I saw that I had cut myself from my inside wrist all the way down to my inside elbow. The cuts ran the entire length of my forearm and some were cuts were very, very deep. Which incidentally is also the better way to attempt suicide. I wrapped my shirt around my wrist, but it wasn’t enough to staunch the blood flow.
I snuck into the bathroom and washed my arm, hoping to wash away some of the blood and make it look less severe. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hide it from my mother for long. Especially if I couldn’t get it to stop bleeding.
But I couldn’t get it to stop bleeding. It was gushing. And the blood didn’t want to coagulate. I rinsed all the blood out of my shirt and went to face my mother.
My mother tends to faint at the sight of blood. She saw my arm and freaked the hell out. We didn’t have the vehicle and this was before the days of cell phone popularity. We couldn’t even find any hydrogen peroxide.
We wound up using paper towels and finally managed to stop the bleeding. I never did go to the doctor to get my arm looked at. I probably should have received stitches for this wound, but didn’t. And even though it has been 20 years, I still have little scars all up and down my arm from it. Like little reminders of why you should never ever climb a palm tree.