A – Antoinette

Posted: 23 April 2005 in A-Z, other folks, writing
Tags: , ,

A

For about a year when I was in middle school, my best friend was Antoinette Casciotti. She had straight, black hair and a round, rosy face with a tiny pointy chin. Everything else I remember about her is mostly wrong. I do remember being at Antoinette’s house once, in winter. I stood in her huge warm kitchen, yellow light casting all the wood and tile golden, and watched as her mother squeezed homemade pasta from a metal press. The kitchen seemed huge and hot and it smelled good – what I now know was flour and basil, mixed with heat from the stove.

My mother cooked. Chicken and pies and casseroles and cookies, solid heavy American foods. The closest we got to exotic food was chop suey made entirely without asian ingredients. Antoinette’s mom had managed a velvety yellow dough that folded out into soft ribbons on a floured, dusty countertop. Looking up to the counter, I concentrated on those thick strands with the rippled edges and I longed to be invited for dinner. I wasn’t. Instead, I was invited out the backyard where I watched Antoinette swing higher and higher on her swingset.

Antoinette wasn’t a thin kid, I probably wasn’t either for that matter, but then again, I have a proven distorted childhood body image. I watched her round self go back and forth. She wasn’t graceful, not even while swinging, and soon enough she tried to stop, or jump off, or spin in crazy circles and broke her arm, or her leg. Though I remember her bent wrist, I know it was her leg because Antoinette’s broken leg started my love affair with crutches and casts and shattered bones. For months, or weeks that winter, she got to leave classes early to crutch gingerly across an iced parking lot to get a ride from her mother instead of taking the bus. As best friend and solemn witness to the incident, I got to leave class with her to carry her books. I couldn’t wait to get my own broken bone. I don’t remember anything about Antoinette after that winter. I assume we were no longer friends, or I moved.

I do remember that I spent several years trying to break limbs. I dropped semi-boulders on my feet and ankles, flung myself out of trees onto my wrists, my knees, my hips. I managed to roll ankles and jam fingers, but I never broke anything. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was a self-centered, depressed, destructive kid frighteningly well-disguised as normal. I grew up into a reasonably normal adult who managed to break her ankle, elbow and wrist in three successive years. They hurt more than I had any idea. I wonder what happened to Antoinette; who she grew up to be; whether she married; grew fat; had babies; is teaching kindergarten, things I always thought she’d do.

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