Neighbors and strangers are holding bits of my childhood up to the sunlight, the better to judge them. Mom and I have arranged the tables in loose chronological order; attentive shoppers moving clockwise will see my unformed adolescent self unfold into hopeful young womanhood over there by the plum tree. How much do you want for this, they ask me. I want my father back, I tell them. I want a better start in life, for everyone, not just me. I want a puppy that never gets old and a girl’s fresh faith in redemptive love. But I’ll take five dollars. I need the money for college. How many times can I do this, I wonder. Four years from now, will the souvenirs of the academic me sell for more or less than these trinkets I’m unloading today? Will Mom be here to lay things out; will she recognize the categories? I wonder too, since I’m selling my past, if I might also get an advance on my old age. That sounds like a deal a student might make. Tomorrow I will leave my yard with nothing but my tuition. Today, though, this is still my square of dirt and on these tables I lie back and stretch my limbs and let the customers pick over my old clothes and help themselves to whatever bits they can afford. I thought that I would study hard and travel far and send for Mom from wherever I landed rather than come back here, but nobody told me the cash would be so contagious and greasy from passing through so many hands. I don’t like where this is headed. I want to buy back everything I’ve sold already and keep what I have, however faded. I want every bit of it back.

Copyright © March 18, 2008 David Hodges