My wife has a dear friend that is now our mutual friend. They are both very wordy. They do in fact admit themselves that they’d be Olympic Champions if conversation was a sport. I think we can conclude that I’m lagging behind, slightly. I make up for it in writing, though, and I frequently find it hard to stop writing. So I decided to break up Restore files. These are some more anecdotes, but the conclusion might be an uncomfortable break from the irony.
I mentioned some challenges regarding language in my previous post. When I come to think of it my accent must have been standing out because they remarked on it when I applied for a job in McDonalds and Family Dollar as well. That wasn’t fun, but I did have some funny incidents with my last name, Ytreland.
I took US History as a night class at UALR and the professor had a special strategy for keeping us alert. He interrupted his lecture, lined us up and said the name of all the students. The third time he did this he decided I’d better be “Starts with a Y”. A nurse at the hospital chose a similar approach. After trying to pronounce my name several times, followed by some serious giggling, I explained to her that the name was Norwegian. She had to call me again later, and then I was “The Viking.”
I remember as an elementary school pupil, possibly around 1980, going on a field trip to a local business where they had those big computers that took up most of the room. They were quite proud when they showed us a print out of a drawing they had made. I think it was made of x’es and there was probably some simple, but timeconsuming programming behind this image. I guess these Dot Matrix printers still have some uses, but I was surprised when I saw it again at the County Clerk’s Office in Little Rock in 2001.
Sometimes a smell can bring back a memory. When my wife started using coconut oil and coconut milk for cooking, I remembered something I hadn’t thought about since my early teens. The first “grown up” Christmas present I got was a gift set with shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo apparently had coconut in it. I wanted to find it again, but I never did as I didn’t know what gave the shampoo that scent. It probably didn’t cost much, but to me that was the finest shampoo money could buy, and I was sorry when it was gone.
Music can do the same. I remember the summer when Every Breath You take by The Police was popular. I was on a holiday I didn’t want to go on. I went with my mother and step father to Portoroz in Slovenia, and they played this song a lot at the hotell. I think I was 13 and I remember I really wanted to talk to a German girl that was staying at the same hotel with her parents. Then one day the impossible happened. She came out of the elevator, went straight over to me and started talking. I think she was at least a couple of years older than me and probably felt sorry for me. She was just being polite. I’m afraid all systems crashed and I wasn’t exactly giving the best possible impression. I spent the rest of the holiday following my mother and step-father on different excursions and trying to catch a glimpse of this girl, which hardly made her change her opinion of me. I think about this girl I never talked to when I hear this song on the radio. It’s a bittersweet memory, but mostly bitter.
It would have been just another teenage disappointment, but it was especially humiliating as my mother and step-father thought it was fun to remind me of my failures. That seems to have been a recurring theme. They both reminded me of the weaknesses in my father’s family. It was important that I didn’t become the failure he was. I admit there are some issues in my father’s family, and I have some of them (especially with relationships), but I believe I am more a result of environment than genes.
I wish I could do a back up of memories I like, format my brain, and start over again. Getting rid of the past is hard. I have problems forgetting and resetting. The way it works now, or doesn’t work, is that I try my best to suppress uncomfortable thoughts and impulses. It’s not really working. I hide it, but that’s about all I ca do. I suppose this is a part of being human.
I may sound a bit melancholic today. I am, but it’s not all bad. I don’t think this is going to magically disappear, but I hope I have found something that may not keep the monsters at bay, but hopefully it’ll work better than anything else I’ve tried. I might be breaking the isolation, and I am trying again to find God. I can’t do much about the past, but it is my responsibility to deal with it now. My father died in 1979, when I was 11 years old. That was probably just as well. I never understood him, but maybe I do now.