Benchmark Days

When I awaken, my first thought becomes the prompt for this daily exploration into free-writing. This morning, my eyes opened and I thought, “Page 7, one week, it’s a benchmark day!”
What other benchmarks come to mind as I think back through my life? On July 7, 1982, my son Brekk was born and I became a mother. That is the second most significant benchmark day in my life! The first would have to be March 16, 1950, the day I was born.
My memory for dates is poor, in fact my entire perception of time is quite fuzzy, so for me to remember a date makes it very significant. There are some benchmarks that seem significant and even though I don’t know exactly what date it happened I know how old I was.
In the spring of 1955 we moved from the apartment in my Paternal Grandmother’s basement to a new house built with a loan from my Maternal Grandfather. The picture that has held in my memory shows me playing on the piles of dirt in the newly excavated yard as the house is under construction. My older siblings were in school but I didn’t start Kindergarten until that fall. I would miss hanging out with my Grandmother but the trade-off was a neighborhood full of kids to play with.
The fall of 1957 holds a shadowy benchmark day. As I was walking to school a young heavy-set man with dark hair kidnapped me long enough to molest me and steal my innocence. That shameful secret was held in my little body for thirty-five years before I felt safe enough to tell a therapist about it. The day I told that story benched the beginning of my path toward healing.
Telling that memory has triggered two other dark events in my history. I was an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Denver when I was date raped and cut my own wrists in a twisted attempt to “punish” my attacker. Four years later, in the spring of 1972, while visiting my sister in San Francisco I was raped at a party. It was the time of the Height Asbury hippie movement, the “love-ins” at Golden Gate Park and LSD. These events erased my naiveté and gave me a level of sophistication and street smarts with which to better navigate the world.
September, 1973. I am now married and have a teaching credential! I have just moved from Denver to St. Louis, home town of my husband. In search of a job, I register to substitute in all the surrounding districts. I don’t know East St Louis from New York City! I’m just a kid from South Dakota! My first day, the phone rings and I have an assignment to teach sixth grade at Jefferson Grade School in East St. Louis! Holy Shit! I have to admit the day is a black out after the memory of walking into “the room with no books” and seeing those children of color hanging out the second floor windows as the “big mama” teacher from across the hall came in to instruct me that my job for the day was to make sure they didn’t leave the room. She opened the drawer of the teacher’s desk to reveal a black rubber paddle. To my credit, I didn’t walk away.English: Panorama of St. Louis, Missouri, Unit...
I have many wonderful, exciting benchmark stories in my memory bank but my guidelines are to free-write as is comes and stop at the bottom of the page. So this must be the end of “one-week benchmark” page 7.


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