H.A.G.S. was published on You-Do-You.com, June 2016..


It was everything we could have imagined when we were seven. When the lake was the beach, and backyards were forests, secret gardens behind chain link and boards jimmied between branches. Now you are living it. Is it everything you hoped it would be?

Deep emotions. Nostalgia like a freight train, like a sinking bag of cement pulling your throat through your chest through your stomach. Heavy, less with memories than with feelings. The cloud pattern, the temperature, the sound of the birds in the morning. 

That photo of you, in the backyard of your house on Taylor Avenue. Brick and cement and psychedelic stretch cotton, your legs splayed out, chin tipped down. Your cousin took it, must have been June. There was green in the background, you could feel the rich depth of water in the air.

Was it that summer or the one before? When she finally left. You spent the rest of the month up North, or was it only two weeks? The timeline feels slippery, the major events are the memories. What does order matter for anyways, when it’s all a cloud in the end.

The report for science class - cutting up photos of birds. You didn’t have to finish it when they found out. Did you even have to finish out the year? Instead you just shifted into summer. The two weeks away, the long days at home. Late nights watching Loveline with your sisters. 

Then everything changed. A move to the cul-de-sac, pine forest on the island and football field of grass behind the house. The Wind Meadows pool replaced the lake, bikinis replacing the old Walmart one-piece. Pink Crystal Light in plastic mugs.

You would dye your hair and eat handfuls of chips off paper towels. Things were different now, you had a TV in your bedroom and an office at the end of the hallway. Carpeting in the dining room and a black tar driveway. But things felt more plastic. Your door cracked down the middle when you slammed it too hard, and you could peel off the wallpaper trim with your pointer finger. The pantry was a closet. You ate salad from bags.

Is that when things changed? When the desire to escape began to boil deep within you, frothing up around your brain? 

Have you come far enough, or does the feeling still swim inside of you? Your body, the same, your mind expanding. 

Or is it still tied to the past?