keyframe – noun. A moment that seemed innocuous at the time but ended up marking a diversion into a strange new era of your life—set in motion not by a series of jolting epiphanies but by tiny imperceptible differences between one ordinary day and the next, until entire years of your memory can be compressed into a handful of indelible images—which prevents you from rewinding the past, but allows you to move forward without endless buffering.
There are moments in my life that I refer to as being magical. Little snapshots of memories forever embedded in my mind that I will never forget. In my life, I have come to refer to these times as moments of keyframe.
These are the keyframe moments of my life.
Kindergarten. I remember this kid named Zachary who was in my kindergarten class who always thought that he was better than everyone else, and would frequently pick on the rest of us. My teachers were two women who were very free-spirited, and we would often have story time followed by finger painting, other times we would have woodworking. With woodworking, we would typically nail together pieces of scrap wood from the older students shop class.
Zachary was always a huge problem for me, a problem for me just as much as a problem for everyone else in the class. I recall my parents even coming to the school to complain about Zachary for his trouble-making behavior, specifically his putting paint on the back of my clothes and stealing my food at lunch time only to throw it at other students.
One day towards the end of the school year, Zachary decided he was going to shove a book in my face when I wasn’t paying attention. So he came up behind me when I wasn’t looking and shoved a book hard into my face. The book fell to the floor. I had enough of his antics, so I picked the book up and proceeded to shove it directly into his face. But at the time, I didn’t know my own strength, and apparently I was much stronger than him because when I shoved the book at his face, he ended up having to go to the nurse with a bloody nose. Ironically, the name of the book was The Giving Tree. I felt bad about the incident, even though he deserved it. However, I don’t think I’ll soon forget that The Giving Tree gave Zachary a bloody nose.
Second grade. In second grade, we were allowed to have recess out in the side courtyard for the first time. It was at this time that the school had laid down large rubber puzzle pieces to cover the cement that originally covered the outdoor space. I noticed that the rubber was easy to mark, especially by scratching, so my friends and I started writing out our names in the rubber using sticks and pebbles.
The school administration was far from pleased with our new found entertainment, so they decided to provide us with an alternative. The following week the class went outside to find that the buildings and grounds department had provided us with wooden blocks to play with. These blocks were huge; perhaps the size of milk crates, and they were in various shapes. About a hundred of them in total. We all set about creating our various imaginary play with these blocks, and although it seems trivial and boring in present day, back when I was in second grade, it seemed magical.
One day I had the bright idea that instead of building our own individual forts and play things that we could all build one big project together as a class. So, I suggested that we gather all 100 of the blocks together and build a big square castle. By the time we finished our so-called castle, we had roughly 10 minutes of recess time remaining. The castle walls, and four corner towers had grown to considerable size to the point that one of the school administrators who had a corner office overlooking the courtyard came out to see what we had created. One of the girls had to climb on top of my shoulders to place the final few blocks on the corner towers. The only way I can describe it would be as a real-life game of Minecraft, only infinitely more dangerous.
Just then, Zachary, who wished not to participate in the construction of the castle decided that he would no longer sit back and watch as everyone else had fun. He proceeded to bash through the castle walls at full running speed as if he was pretending to be a boulder launched from a catapult. The blocks, some of which towered our teachers heads, rained down upon myself and my classmates, and a few of us sustained bumps and bruises as a result.
I remember being immediately brought inside by my now embarrassed teachers as the school administrator chastised them for not properly supervising us. That was the last time I saw those blocks.
Third grade. In third grade, I remember my classroom moving up to ground level. My school was strange. Kindergarten was in the basement along with first and second grade. Third grade was on the first floor. The central stairway that connected all of the floors had a very bizarre mural which started at the basement floor and depicted a coral reef.
As one walked up the stairs, the depths of the ocean painted on the brick changed. By the first floor there were sharks and fish, and other see creatures, until one reached the top floor, where someone had painted a beach scene complete with an umbrella. The ceiling of the top floor was painted sky blue with realistic looking clouds and a skylight which opened to the roof. I remember this from the tour that was given to us in third grade.
Recess was moved to an even larger courtyard, this time in front of the main entrance to the school. This is where the entire middle and lower school would have recess all as a group. It was a very large area, though my favorite spot had to be the big oak tree out front; the only area that was not paved with concrete. I used to climb over the very large roots at the base of the tree and dream about one day being big enough to climb to the top of the tree, where I could be alone with my thoughts. Dream as I might, the tree was too enormous to be climbed without special equipment, even for a full grown adult.
I was very introverted, even as a small child in third grade. I remember one day when buildings and grounds installed a badmitten net, securing one side of it to my favorite tree. I was never one who actively sought out team sports, or anything that involved team athletic sports of any kind. A handful of the older kids asked me if I wanted to join the game, and deciding that I might as well, since my private alone space had already been invaded, I really didn’t have anything to lose.
As soon as I accepted the invitation, one of the older kids handed me a racket, and proceeded to explain the rules. Just as soon as I was about to start playing, Zachary came along and stole the badmitten racket right out of my hands in a very aggressive and forceful manner; enough to bend the very fragile metal neck of the racket. My only response at that moment was to seek revenge and ensure that he would not be playing in my place, so I took the birdie and threw it outside the fence of the courtyard.
Zachary of course decided to start crying loudly until one of the teachers came over. The teacher stormed over in a very angry manner and as punishment, ordered me to sit at the base of my favorite tree and think about what I had done. All in all, I had effectively gotten my favorite tree back to myself at the expense of not being allowed to leave the spot.
Fourth grade. Nothing eventful that I can remember, except being told that it was not proper to take off my rain boots by shaking my feet violently until they flew off.
Fifth grade. This year of my life went by much like the one that came before it. Completely uneventful. The only thing I remember vividly was my teacher, whom I will call Mr. V. Mr. V. was a very interesting character. He was one of my greatest grade school teachers, tied only with Mrs. W, my music teacher.
One event in particular that I will never forget which will forever be fixed in my mind is the SQ3R lesson; Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. Mr. V spent an entire classroom period explaining the SQ3R method for academic study, and at one point went so far as to climb up on the desks of the classroom, and as he jumped from desk to desk, he chanted, “SURVEY, QUESTION, READ, RECITE, REVIEW!”
I will never forget that.
Sixth grade. I wrote about my adventures in sixth grade in a separate article, 6th Grade, And Other Mishaps.
(Let’s skip ahead a few years…)
Summer of 1996. I was 16, and for the first time in my life, I felt as if I was in love. I thought I was in love, but what did I know? It was the summer that I met a girl I’ll call A. A was from Boston, Massachusetts, and we were both employed as kitchen staff at summer camp. She and I ended up having a very long distance relationship after the summer ended. Then her family sent her away to Paraguay to be a foreign exchange student, and we communicated via handwritten letters back-and-forth for some time.
In May of 1998, I graduated high school, and A came to visit for a couple of days, and then attended my graduation. It seemed that our long-distance relationship hadn’t really gone anywhere. The day after graduation, A left on an airplane back to Boston, and it was years since I heard from her. Currently, the last time I checked her Facebook profile, she’s happily married and has three kids.
Strange how time flies.
(And we’ll skip ahead to the greatest day of my life…)
On June 1, 2002, I met Angie. We went on a date to play miniature golf. I was so nervous, I acted like a nervous wreck (a.k.a. idiot). So much so that the date turned into an epic disaster. Thankfully, Angie gave me a second chance, and we have been together ever since.
[To be continued…]
The font used in the header image is called Special Elite.
I promised my greatest fan, Becky, that I would give her a free plug on this post, but she thanked me for the offer, and declined. So instead, I’m going to just mention that she’s someone you should be following on Twitter. Her tweets are fantastic, and from the heart. She’s also a cancer survivor, and mother to two special needs kids. Seriously, you have no excuse not to follow her.