by Liz Rector
My odd quirk in playing with change brings me back to the past.
|When I get nervous or upset or simply need a distraction, I reach for the change in my pocket. I splay the metal discs in my palm and look at the years. This time I pulled out a quarter. It’s year was 1994. I always ask myself where I was that year, whatever year is on the coin, and if I wasn’t alive yet, I thumb through my mind to search for what was going on in history at the time.
1994. I was in Kindergarten. Living in Pittsburgh. We had moved there the year prior and happened to experience “the blizzard of the century.” I don’t remember that. I do remember taking giant steps to hoist my small body up the black block stairs of the bus. I remember going to daycare for the second half of the day because I only had half days as a kindergartener in Ms. Medellin’s class. Before I started school, my mom took me to meet with the principal. He asked me if I knew how to spell the word principal and I did...I spelled it and I was proud. He said, “that’s right...and there’s a p-a-l at the end because I’m your pal.” The year prior to that I read a book for the first time, it was Dr. Seuss’ “Fox in Socks,” the first book I ever read. It took me an hour to read and once I finished reading it to my Mom, I cascaded down the stairs to read it to my Dad.
After school, at daycare they showed us The Goonies and Jurassic Park, I was five, I had nightmares for moths. I remember the girls who were older than me flipping through the radio station to find the same song over and over again and it drove me nuts. I remember the indignation I felt, as a kid barely older than me chastised me for my lack of coloring within the lines. I remember our forced nap times and the sheer jubilation I experienced when one day my Dad picked me up early..the white door of the Toyota closing so that I could be whisked away to something “funner.”
The quarter is scratched and dirty. It reeks of metal and feels like a thousand stranger’s hands. Underneath the eagle’s right wing, there’s a darkness that almost looks like a stain. I can’t help but wonder where this quarter was when I was five and it was spit-shine bright, newly minted, untarnished, yet to be mishandled. It’s been marred and so have I. But we both still have our worth.