Sunday, January 27, 2013


Once I gave a taxi driver the wrong address by mistake, but I liked the unfamiliar place he took me to so I got out in search of adventure.

Once I wore a lot of clothes that had paisley designs, and so did everyone else I knew back then.

Once I didn't like what I was hearing so I stopped listening.

Once the only thing I knew how to do in the kitchen was to melt pre-sliced American cheese on an open English muffin, add a blob of Heinz Tomato Ketchup to each half, and call it pizza.

Once I walked up and down the boardwalk at Far Rockaway, screaming out words that began with the letter R, because I had a crush on a boy named Ronald Robert Rothstein, and suddenly the letter "R" was the most wonderful thing in the world.

Once I went to a fancy tea party and learned the importance of extending your pinky finger while lifting the cup to your mouth.

Once I kept a dream journal and considered it perfectly acceptable to carry it around with me and read from it, out loud, when there was a lull in the conversation. 

Once I dreamed that my grandmother offered me a gigantic piece of chocolate cake and this is still one of my favorite memories even though it only happened inside my sleeping brain.

Once I dreamed of running off to join a convent of Jewish nuns.

Once I couldn't write unless I wrote with purple ink.

Once I thought there were only three flavors of ice cream — vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry — and I never knew anyone who ate strawberry because it tasted so fake.  

Once I knew deep contentment and that "once" lasted for a long time.

Once I wore a polka dot headscarf while dancing the polka, which I considered the height of accessory coordination.

Once I had a parakeet but it died the same day I changed its name from Mr. Chips to Heidi.

Once I was fearless.

Once I spent an entire day at a Xerox Machine Repair Training course, learning how to take apart a gigantic machine, clean it thoroughly, and put it back together again.

Once I had no scruples about stealing text books from the college bookstore and I still cringe at the memory.

Once I wanted to be a professional reader but then I discovered that those kinds of jobs were hard to come by.

Once I wore a lot of red.

Once I was told I shouldn't sing in public because my voice was so abominable to listen to.

Once I woke from a dream and the voice in my head said "Don't Eat Meat," but I didn't listen to it.

Once I began a diary on January 1 and ended it on January 2.

Once I was startled by leaves falling from a tree and I cried "Oh no."

Once I spent a week's salary to get my hair washed, cut, and curled, back in the day when my week's salary wasn't very much.

Once I had an epiphany but then I realized I'd already had it — more than once — before.

Once I would feel nervous if I had an unscheduled patch of time in the day.

Once I had less confidence in myself.

Once I could walk great distances in high-heeled shoes.

Once I lost my sense of humor, and mistrusted people who still had theirs.

Once I thought I had too many friends.

Once I counted up all the pairs of Birkenstock sandals I owned and the number was shocking.

Once I considered my library card my most precious possession.

Once I was proud to be a Brownie and every time I placed that little beanie on my head it felt like a crown.

Once I was terrified by the quickly-spinning ceiling fan above my head.

Once I had an uncomfortable conversation with a repair man who insisted that my oven broke from lack of use.

Once I used to separate my "lights" and "darks" when doing laundry but now there are only darks.

Once I lost my bathing suit top somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.

Once I was talked into going someplace with someone dangerous and I immediately regretted it.

Once I spent a week on my own in Lawrence, Kansas and made friends with the people at the mystery bookstore, the shoe store, the yarn store, the public library, and the Rainbow Trout Café (which might not be the real name, but it was a great eatery).

Once I ate too many jelly beans and after that I couldn't even look at a jelly bean without feeling queasy.

Once I used to go around reciting lines from sonnets by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Once I only owned one pair of glasses but now I own five that I wear regularly and five others with outdated prescriptions that I can't seem to get rid of.

Once I thought re-cycling had something to do with bicycling.

Once I baked a batch of cookies from scratch and I never felt the need or desire to do that again.

Once I planned to read every book in the Biography section of my school library but I stopped after Clara Barton: Civil War Angel.

Once I bought a pair of second-hand men's shoes at an outdoor market in London and, in spite of the fact that they didn't fit and they were broken down and ugly, I wore them every day for months because they made me feel invincible.

Once I knew every station on the IND line ("D" train), from the Bronx to Greenwich Village, and I'd repeat the names and numbers to help me fall asleep at night.

Once I had a flirty high school English teacher who sat on top of her desk, crossing and re-crossing her legs, and each glimpse of her scallop-hemmed slip was mesmerizing to me. 

Once I came in last in a burping and farting contest with all my cousins, because I was such an uptight goody-two-shoes, even at age eight.

Once I met a woman who handed me a blue bowl filled with just-picked strawberries, but at that moment I didn't yet know she was the love of my life.