Take eleven minutes (use all eleven, but don’t go over), and write on the subject of when you were a kid. This is a timed exercise and it’s expected that it won’t be perfect. Any format – fiction, essay, verse – is welcome. You would expect that aging would dim the memories of childhood, but in fact the opposite seems to happen. The older I become, the more vivid are some of those images from years (and years!) gone by, and they return to me in bright flashbulbs of light, outlined in crystal clarity in my brain.
This month's Cafe Writing theme (SPACE) has called one of those images to mind..the night of July 20, 1969, and Neil Armstrong's historic walk on the moon. I see myself, seated cross-legged on the floor of my Aunt Mary's living room, huddled with my cousins around the black-and-white tv screen. We're eating birthday cake, I think - banana cake, to be exact, because that's my cousin Robby's favorite, and it is his birthday after all. There is noisy chatter from my younger cousins splashing in the pool, my Aunt Marge is searching for a napkin to wipe the frosting from baby Kevin's fingers before he smears it on his navy blue sailor outfit, and my grandfather sits in corner in the La-Z-Boy chair, murmuring something in Armenian which is unintelligible to me, but obviously expresses his amazement .
I watch the screen, where there is an odd looking man in a white puffy suit, and he appears to be almost floating on the grayish ground beneath him. He's surrounded by blackness, an infinity of blackness that worries me, for I'm afraid he will suddenly bounce too high and fly off into the void all around him. But no, he manages to plant the American flag he carries into the rocky ground, to hover beside it for a moment as if paying homage to the greatness of this county which has sent him here to a godforsaken planet on the outskirts of the universe.
All the while, I sit and eat my banana cake, hoping to discover the toothpick my Aunt Mary always bakes in the cake batter, which will guarantee me a prize.