The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing





It is a cool, foggy morning and my gift to myself this week and last is a rest from my sprint workouts. In exchange, I begin to train Stella on longer runs again in the park—a seven miler where I know in special places the tallest Redwoods will collect the fog and create the big puddles that dogs love. I want to see Stella sprint again, want to examine her gait as she heals and as she learns to be again comfortable in her body for longer excursions. 

As we trot along I begin to remember the fall, last fall; the weather feels cooler, the light in the sky different and I remember when I began my journey inside myself a year ago. I never know if I am to say if this time is marked by me becoming dissociative or if, rather, I am to say that I discovered my dissociation that I’d always lived with, but acknowledged it with more clarity, found the Parts, gave them names, let them be heard. 

As this feeling of having been here before, in this season, during my meditation sinks in, I begin to experience, again, the same intrusive flash comes at me also a year ago—also in the park. It is of a little girl, her party dress being shoved up and away. 

I also realize I have been getting this intrusive flash a lot lately; it is the boy. Is it Z I wonder? 

As we hit the halfway mark and turn around and head back, for reasons I do not quite understand, a little boy across the street comes to mind and joins me in thought as I consider this little girl, this party dress being pulled up, her being thrown against a wall or fence. This morning that hints of fall, for some reason, brings this boy from across the street to me. There is no forgetting his name; it is Scotty. 

Scotty M. 

Scotty was a year older than me but in the same grade, held back. He loved me, fawned over me I believe. He lived with his mom and his grandfather. His uncles were famous hockey players but his mom was, by all accounts, a drunk. 

Something happened, I remember. I do not know what but as I run in the park I begin to get vague sensations, hazy recall. I remember Scotty’s dirty face, his runny nose, big blue eyes, his rough pudgy hands, larger, thicker than mine, nails never cleaned, neglect oozing out his filthy, never washed t-shirt. 

I remember his mother, V. 

Something has happened. 

I remember running to Scotty’s mother, telling her….something has happened but the something is something I cannot remember.  What is crystal clear, however, is how she responds to me when I begin to open my mouth. Before I can barely speak she comes back at me with the force of a mother bear whose cub is on fire. Whatever I have said to her she tells me I must never, ever say again. She screams and tells me that my words, that these accusations, could ruin her son’s life. How dare I ruin her son’s life, she shouts and rages and threatens. 

I run quickly away. This I remember. I run to my house, up to my bedroom and under my bed. My heart beats. I can feel it through my chest. And I stay there a good long time. 

What sits with me is ruining Scotty’s life and nothing else. I remember nothing of whatever happened to make me say something. He could have stolen something, hurt me, done god knows what. I do not know.

I am shocked that Scotty comes to me, of all people, of all things, Scotty M. 

As we continue in the park I think about memory. Does the brain let in only the important pieces of evidence as you begin to get portions of your memory back? And, if so, is it perhaps Scotty who fires the slingshot at my hand my way a few years later for what has happened, for what I have said. 

I don’t know. 

I truly have no idea. 

But the niggling inside, this consistent flash of this very little girl being somehow violated persists. It is what kicks off this meditation and I call it The Great Fire. I proclaim that this vision, The Great Fire, will be the centerpiece of this work. 

Later in the day I Google Scotty and I see that he has died—long ago.

I am surprised but not. And I’ve a mind to see if he had fallen into trouble and my guess is he was in and out of prison his whole life. 

I am not sure what to take away from all this. Does he have anything to do with these intrusive flashes? Did something happen? Or was it simply the message sent to me by his mother to keep my mouth shut, that I could ruin lives by speaking. 

This all seems to come under that same blackness that feels each day more familiar and at the same time too more unnatural. My black-out childhood feels each day more compelling, more strange, more something to be called into question. 

There’s things I remember

And things I forget

These are the lyrics I love so much from Raining in Baltimore and they come to mind as I consider all the forgetting I do and what little memory I have. And I consider the odd pieces that come to the surface and if they call out to me, to my puzzle.

I go back and search for “party dress” in the tome and I find it,  just three days before the Sandbox begins. My voices were angry and unnamed but yes, the party dress in the park is there…



I wake to being interviewed. 

Flash yesterday at mile eight--where you  have had flashes before on that loop. Why there?

I don't know--maybe I'm relaxed that I've made it so far.

Tell me out loud what the flash is--write it down.

Little girl in a pink party dress. Man pulls party dress up. Did this  happen to me?

Why do you think it flashed into your brain? For fun?

Lots of things go through one's mind. I have a strong imagination to  put it mildly. This could be simply me recalling a dress.

The man?

He could be made up too. My brain is such a weird spot right now. Why  are you grilling me like this and who are you?

Does that matter? Do you need to identify everything with these stupid parts?

Why are you so mean? You scare me.

Maybe I'm you. Maybe I'm your brain. Maybe I'm the smartest one of the  bunch who will tell you the truth…