By James Gesner
I remember standing at the top of the stairs with my brother, in the middle of the night, listening to our parents scream at each other.
I remember having a long beige spiral corded phone in every kitchen of every house we lived in when I was growing up.
I remember the smell of brass polish every Sunday as my mom would complete her weekly OCD scrubbing of every brass figure in the place; there were a lot.
I remember a snowy winter morning and being told by my parents to get outside and play, maybe to go sledding. I broke my arm, getting hit by a toboggan after my first trip down.
I remember my brother showing me Jaws for the first time, when I was five years old, then humming the theme the next few times we went to the beach. I did not go in.
I remember being in my first shitty apartment in Taunton and waking up on September 11, 2001. The news was on every channel, but as the second plane hit, I thought some action movie was on.
I remember September 12, 2001 and the moment the Marines recruitment office opened and my best friend signed up for duty.
I remember buying a duplex in Plymouth when I was 22. Then realizing we just moved in next to the worst neighbors in history. Don’t buy a duplex.
I remember sitting next to my wife while she was having a C-Section, holding her hand, sweating more than she was. Our son was born, and was a dark blue. I did not breathe until he did.
I remember the first time my father hit me, getting upset that it didn’t seem to knock me out like he hoped, and hitting me again.
I remember my first date with my wife. We were in high school, 17 years old, we went to an italian restaurant that had great fettucine, then we went to a movie which I did not see because I was staring at her the whole time. Then we made out in my pickup for an hour, then we went to a park for a walk before I took her home.
I remember explaining The Matrix to three girls in my home room the weekend after seeing it six times. They didn’t get it, but thought Keanu was hot.
I remember working a summer helping to cut and place headstones, it’s all done by hand, and it’s all very heavy.
I remember walking home in the rain from Taekwondo, after being dropped off by my sister, but forgetting my red belt and being told to go get it.
I remember the first golf tournament I won after joining the varsity team as a freshman in High School.
I remember playing in a golf tournament up in the mountains of Vermont, in July, and the snow that fell in the afternoon, and how my hands hurt with the cold and clang of the steel to the golf ball.
I remember being at a shoe store looking for wrestling shoes, and being recruited by the High School wrestling coach to join the team since I was just in Middle School.
I remember tearing my knee up when I got off the wrong lift on a ski trip when I was 12. I laid on a double black diamond trail, without being able to get up, in such agony. Dozens of people passed me by, never thinking twice, until finally someone mercifully stopped to see if I was okay. Turns out he was the Vice President of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Got to go to the factory, get free Ice Cream and make a new flavor and had a blast after my leg was fixed.
I remember the look in the Doctors eyes when he told me I had heart failure, and then his befuddlement when all I said was “OK.”
I remember my sons first steps. More like his first sprint, he just stood up and booked it across the living room.
I remember seeing Superman for the first time. And that’s been my favorite superhero ever since.
I remember binge watching Nip/Tuck, Smallville and House while in the Hospital, while they tried to figure out what was wrong with my leg after they botched a surgical procedure. It was after watching House that I figured out my own damn symptoms and diagnosis and had it confirmed by the head neurologist that was never even consulted before that.
I remember a time I wasn’t in pain every day. That was a long time ago…8 years now.
I remember playing basketball in the rain, and the sound the wet net made when the shot went in perfect. Swish.
I remember watching The Sopranos finale with a group of people in Brockton. I think I was the only one who didn’t start swearing at the television.
I remember having a crush on Katie Holmes. Then she married Tom Cruise. Crazy, but still hot.
I remember getting pulled over at 3 A.M. at Bridgewater State University by 3 cruisers, for going 20 in a 15. I was dropping my buddy off after a night out. 6 cops with flashlights peering inside my truck, and one sees my unscrewed pool cue in the back. “What do you use that for?! Huh?!”…To play pool, what do you think? “Well….some guys use it as a weapon…or something…hrmphh!” We were let go without further incident or citation. Nothing good happens after 2AM.
I remember playing pickup basketball in Brockton with my brother. My brother is one of the best basketball players I’ve ever seen under 6’2″, who has played with some Celtics players, as his best friend is their primary trainer. Anyway, in Brockton, we won the game. They kept the ball that we brought to play, but I counted ourselves lucky as I thought they were going to just start beating us, since they just lost 21-8 to 5 white guys.
I remember my friend Timmy Grover playing 10,000$ a hand blackjack at Foxwoods. Every time he would put up his chips, a little old lady would go “Oooooooo!” This finally drove Timmy nuts, and he looked at the dealer and said, “Get this owl the fuck away from me.”
I remember going to Boston with my girlfriend and best friend, we wanted to out somewhere nice for dinner since we were graduating. We went to the Top of the Hub. I was in a button down shirt and khakis, Emily was in a Sun dress, and Brandon had sweatpants on; They took one look at him, and the Maitre d’ just shook his head and told us we were not going to be seated. We found solace at an upscale Steakhouse with a hostess who didn’t care. We racked up a 300$ bill and left a 25% tip.
I remember having to use a walker for months after getting out of the hospital when my leg was first diagnosed. My wife had to help me bathe in the walk-in shower and I needed to get a shot of narcotics before physical therapy to learn to walk again. My physical therapist was a taskmaster but she got me going again and I’ll never forget her and am forever grateful.
I remember the DMV denying my doctors and my application for a handicap plate on the grounds of my congestive heart failure, something about how young I was and blah blah blah. They then approved a handicap placard because of my leg. Even my Doctors were baffled. The DMV is a strange, strange place.
I remember driving through a blizzard, presumably on the highway, from Brockton to Taunton with my little cousin hanging out the passenger window of my red Ford Ranger yelling “I THINK WE’RE STILL ON THE ROAD!”
I remember going to The Foxy Lady with my fiance and getting a lap dance for the both of us from the same blonde stripper, upstairs in the VIP area. Very awesome.
I remember eating nothing but peanut butter and jellies, and mac and cheese while my parents were gone for months at a time, living down in Florida while I was by myself in Marshfield, when I was a senior in high school.
I remember coming home after being unable to finish my first year of college the first time around, due to being sick, in 2001. My mom told me they had sold the house and they were moving permanently down to Florida. I was just turning 18 and was now homeless.
I remember my mother having to sleep with a knife on her bedside table in the months leading up to her divorce. The things she told me that happened when they fought, after she finally got away from him, were horrific.
I remember having such a bad temper when I was younger, getting so mad that I punched a support column in the living room and broke my hand after a fight with my wife; my then girlfriend.
I remember how great my wedding ceremony and reception was, and how my wife kept started saying her vows first when the Justice of the Peace was telling me to “Repeat after me, James..” I held her hands softly, looked into her beautiful brown eyes and said “You Fail.” Great laugh caught on video.
I remember my wife trying to make french fries for the first time and she must have thought that the oil was literally going to boil. As the smoke grew thicker and the smoke alarm began to ring out in the apartment, she grabbed the pot and was rushing to go throw the oil away outside and it spilled all over her hand. The stench of the burn was awful, and the apartment smelt of burnt oil and hand for weeks.
I remember being on a bowling team with my mom when we lived in Vermont when I was 11. There was nothing better to do in Colchester, VT. Trust me.
I remember racing my ATV on the beaches of Lake Champlain with my friends and their ATV’s. Going over 40mph in the sand at 10 years old, I hit an invisible walk way someone had decided to pave from their backyard down to the shore line. The ATV flipped and I landed on my helmet. I woke up 3 minutes later to my friends who had turned sickly white with worry.
I remember being in the 6th grade and going to a girls birthday party, her name was Chelsea. I was “going out” with a girl named June, but by the end of that party and all the spin the bottle and 7 minute in heaven games, I had somehow lost that girlfriend; as I found out the next day, through one of her friends. I didn’t know what happened, and that’s when I learned that girls are a mystery wrapped in a nutty enigma coating. Hey, she kissed other guys there! I think what did it, was when Chelsea said my mouth and tongue was minty and kept kissing me to make sure, and told the other girls to as well. But I’m still not 100% on this theory.
I remember eating toast with raspberry preserves, along with black tea with milk and honey whenever I had a cold.
I remember being called “Ghost” by my history teacher in high school. Due to not always being present in class, but still maintaining at least a B average in class; my teachers would actually ask me earlier in the day if they saw me if I was going to show up, I would tell them yes or no, and they would be ok either way as long as I kept handing in my work and kept doing well on my tests.
I remember having 83 absences my senior year of high school. 83 that they knew about, never mind the ones where I would show up for home room check in and then bolt. But I never missed Mr. Sullivan’s English classes, even if it was to show up for that class alone and then go home.
I remember my high school graduation, and afterwards my best friend telling me he overheard another kid when my name was called for me to get my diploma. Apparently this kid was in my classes or home room and said to his friend, “See! He does exist!”
I remember getting pneumonia when I was working at Circuit City in Hanover. This was back when they paid their sales staff on commission. I also had a history of pneumonia, so much so, there is a scar across my right lung. My boss did not believe I was sick and wouldn’t let me leave. After going tot he hospital that night after work and having to be stabilized, all of a sudden I was given two weeks off with pay. Hmm…
I remember making love to my wife on the beach. The sound of the waves crashing, the moon light…the sand in our ass.
I remember deciding to go back to school and how supportive my family has been about everything. The long days, and nights. Helping babysit, helping food shop, cook and clean, etc. All great. But they can still drive you nuts. All families have that superpower.