Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Condensed Story Of My Life So I Don't Forget - Part 2

I was born in a red brick house
with a Christmas tree
and silver spoon in my mouth...

My childhood is a blur. All I can really remember are the things that my mom has reminded me of since high school was over. My best friend was Alex D., who was the same age as me and dad went to college with mine, and therefore we were destined to be friends. He lived six houses down the street. We would turn on the hose in the back yard, and make things out of mud. We'd play with the balsa wood airplanes I'd beg my dad to buy me at the hardware store. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What can I say? We were kids.

My brother, Paul, was born on April 29th, 1991. I don't remember ever being close with him, even though we shared a room until I was twelve. Even though we were siblings it felt like we lived in two different worlds, which is still true. I started to drift away from my family at a young age, though, and sometimes I blame myself for being so distant from him. We still don't really talk. Even Robby (who, at this time in the story, is still just another friend at my elementary school) hung out with Paul more than I did. Paul got a MySpace a few months ago and I didn't know what to do when he put me in his Top 8. I know that's a silly example, but that's really the best I've got, and that may say more than I meant it to.

I was teased a lot as a young kid. My only social saving grace was that I was the class clown and was also a pretty good drawer. Chuck Jones was my idol, and I drew every day - pictures of Looney Tunes, cartoons, even charicatures of my teachers and classmates. I even met Chuck Jones in fourth grade, and my mom still says that's one of her favorite memories of me growing up. If it weren't for my ability to draw, I think less people would have even considred talking to me. I remember my parents bought my clothes for me, and my parents, if you didn't know, have a pretty detatched sense of fashion, especially for young boys. Flamboyantly bright striped polo shirts, shorts that were too short, jeans that were too, back then, tight. I remember one time someone called me "gay" at school, and I went home and asked my mom what "gay" meant, and she said very straightly (no pun intended): "It means happy." So the next day, when I was called gay again, I said "Yep!! And I'm proud of it!"

There is one important memory I remember from that time - one that would seem so trivial, but one I always think about when I sit and "try to figure out where it all went wrong." I was at Alex D.'s house, and it was fourth grade. He told me that I needed to have my parents stop buying clothes for me, and that people thought I was.. well, gay. Or something. We were in his family room playing Sonic 3D Blast on Sega, I remember this distinctly. Before we left to walk back to my house he gave me a pair of his jeans to have, because they were cool, and I remember feeling guilty, somehow, but also trendy - daring, even - at the same time. As strange as it sounds, I look back on this as the first time the world of my parents stopped taking precedent, and the little moment that allowed the rest of my life to take the course it did.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Condensed Story Of My Life So I Don't Forget - Part I

My name is David Neff. I was born at Tucson Medical Center at 10:36pm on September 14, 1987. I was a C-section baby. The two names picked out before for me before my birth were Bradley and David. My mom told me that the second she saw me she knew I was a David. I also know that my parents called me Homer before they had any idea what to actually name me. David, incidentally, is also the name of my grandmother Mildred Neff's first son, who died shortly after childbirth. My dad told me, when I eventually asked, that my naming was entirely unrelated. I was also, as I'm told, my grandmother Neff's favorite grandson. Sometimes I wonder if that's because I was her oldest son's first son, or that I was named David, and I lived, which somehow made up for her first son, who is buried somewhere in Ohio in a graveyard I've never seen.

When I was born my mom owned a piano store called Pro Music, which was located roughly around Broadway and Wilmot. I was, as my mom has told me, the "store baby," but it didn't last long, as the recession that hit in the late '80s led to the store's eventual buy-out from Hachenberg & Son's Pianos, which is located, funnily enough, directly across the street from the music store I work in now. My mom says she has never regretted selling it for a second.

I was born into a house - some-address-or-other on Indian Ridge Dr, which is located off of Tanque Verde Road, between Grant/Kolb and Sabino Canyon Dr. My parents sold the house to a couple who ended up having a child named Ben who, funnily enough, became friends with my younger brother Paul in preschool... but that hasn't happened yet. At one and half years old my parents moved out east, past the furthest bus stop, into 49ers Country Club, into the house that I now and forever will call my home. It was the third house built in my neighborhood and the previous owner hadn't upgraded a thing since. We moved in shotly after I was born, a year which also brought Tucson's only white Christmas my mom (a Tucson native) has ever seen. She said they took me out in the snow, and she and my dad joked about it being God's gift to me for being born. My home had carpet which was a funky orange, before it was remodeled years later, and I remember peices of the ceiling were falling out in the family room. My mom's Yamaha grand piano was in the living room, which is, mind you, seperate from the family room, though they were right next to each other. There were wood panel walls and window shades. There was a tacky bar that connected the kitchen and the family room. There was a striped body-pillow that we kept out there, because I used to sleep on it as a toddler.

The rest of my early childhood are the regular cliches of any other. I was the first born. I, like every other child it seems, started reading and recognizing symbols and talking at a very young age. I was never very exploratory, unlike my younger brother, and, as I've been told, always behaved very well in public - aside from the time I pooped on the floor of PDQ Records, which my parents have never really fully explained to me in detail but I can probably figure out either way.

I was baptised with my mom, which I didn't know until a few months ago. My mom was raised in a spiritually conflicted family, apparently, half-Jewish and half-Christian and, due to her gender, the definitive religion seemed to kind of pass her by. She was neither baptised or mitzfah'd, if that's what you'd call it. I went to church as a very young boy. I remember getting a pin for each chapter of the Bible I read. It was a mildly conservative Methodist church. My dad was raised Methodist. Once I turned the age of five, I remember trying to get out of going to church weekly. When I was about seven years old, due to a poor engineering decision, I was near-fatally electrocuted at my church while trying to get a drink of water on the playground of Sunday School. All I remember is trying to scream, but I couldn't, because I was stuck to the fence by the water fountain, and I was knocked unconscious when I hit the concrete. I remember waking up to paramedics, my Sunday school teacher and my parents. They were checking for burns. They said I was very lucky. After that I had to sleep in my parents room for a number of months, and they sent me to a children's psychiatrist because I was having ultra-realistic nightmares based on the Little Golden Books my parents would read me. I still don't understand how or why that all worked like it did, but sometimes I wonder if it scrambled my brain. After that, I never wanted to go to church again.

I remember now that my babysitter Lisa told me, after my parents got divorced many years later, that it took her so much by surprise, because my family was always seen as picture-perfect to everyone in the congregation. For some reason, that is something that has stuck with me for years and pops up every time I sit down and think about it all.