Once, when Dad had too many beers, he insisted I’d been writing poems since kindergarten.
            I have no memory of this.
            My first memory of writing is in fourth grade. While my classmates practiced the cursive alphabet, I was writing a novel. It was an excuse to imagine myself caught in a love triangle with two of my friends in a cabin in the Colorado mountains. The other girl went missing.
            Finally, we’re alone.
            I had not yet been to the Colorado mountains, but imagined them steep, sloped, snowy, and thick with trees. I imagined they were dangerous.
            By my first year of high school, I’d started keeping my writing secret. It stayed secret until Dad chanced on one of my notebooks left haphazardly in the basement. He never confronted me about what I’d written there, but Mom called me into the bathroom to question me about the explicitly pornographic material. I stayed silent and nodded my head. When she pressed, I told her I was still a virgin and the notebook was a way of getting sex out of my system. Rather than do it, I wrote about doing it. This was a bold-faced lie. A year earlier I was raped by a drunk boy in my friend’s basement.
            I didn’t write that in my notebook.
            Instead, I wrote about sneaking out of the house to get drunk, smoke pot and have sex with boys who had already graduated from high school. I wrote about going to their apartments to give head. It’s fiction, Mom. My way of dealing. I lied and she believed me. She gave me back the notebook and it never came up again.

At four, I caught my bare foot in the spokes of a red tricycle. I remember the story of the scar I’m left with; I remember the tricycle, but not the bloody event. No memory of the bleeding itself.

When I was twenty-three years old I found a raised, round scar in my pubic hair. It looked like a cigarette burn. With no traumatic memory to correspond to such a wound, I called my mother.
           You had a mole removed when you were—oh—twelve or thirteen. They had to burn it off. You didn’t want me in the room. Suddenly: modesty.
           I had no memory of this, even after she reminded me.

That same summer I bought a kick-boxing video and kick-boxed in my living room every afternoon. Every time I hurled an upper-cut or a round-house kick into the empty air I imagined a face there. It made me feel stronger. I began to take time putting on my clothes after I got out of the shower. I liked being naked, but had forgotten what I looked like naked.
           I bought a video camera and as soon as I got it home, took it into to my bedroom and locked the door.
           I lived alone.
           I danced around the room, but not seductively. I talked to myself nervously while I twirled and jumped and smiled with my hands on my hips. I took off my clothes. I tried to do a cartwheel but crashed upside down into the closet door. It fell off the hinges and I scrambled off the floor to stop the tape.
           I pressed rewind. Then play.
           Not quite what I had in mind. Not at all what I expected.
           But me. Mine. My own.

©2008 Dr. Lacy M. Johnson All Rights Reserved.