Stripping Outdoors

The sun was setting when, after dancing around the lawn and stripping off my clothes, I fell in the fire ant bed. I was two.

September 1989
September 1989

Because of the angle of light, my mom said she couldn’t see what was wrong. She could only hear me screaming. She saw a shadow moving up my body and when she touched me the ants crawled onto her fingers. Dad rushed me to the bathtub where he threw me in a nearly drowned me. Then he threw me in the car–no car seats in those days–and rushed me to the hospital.

The doctor gave me shots and discovered I had ant bites outside my body and in. The clothes-flinging-in-the-sunset days ended.

Some days writing feels a bit like that.

7 thoughts on “Stripping Outdoors

  1. Yikes! Not many people have sharp memories of themselves at age two, but I bet this one has lingered for you.

    For NaNo participants especially, it must feel like diving naked into an anthill. (Er, not that such a dive is anything I know about firsthand.) And yeah, I can imagine it might sting like CRAZY inside and out. The good news is, the scar tissue just makes you tougher; the next time you take that dive will still sting, but a lot less and for not as long.

    [This message brought to you by the Department of Tortured Extended Metaphor]

  2. Fire Ants! Another thing to fear. I remember my brother stepped in a fire ant nest when he was five. My mom picked him up and dumped him in Tampa bay, which was luckily just a few steps away. Not far from where I am sitting today, interestingly.

    Life brings us back to our past. And the past then…


    I don’t know if this is a metaphor for writing.

  3. Maybe it’s like getting innoculated with bee sting venom to fight a life-threatening reaction- makes you less suseptible next time.

    Like all those damn rejections we get.

    It must have worked for me, because after an agent said NO to my manuscript I had a bad few days and then woke this morning with an idea for the next book- and I’m already sketching it out. And I’ve been stung. A lot.

  4. Pamela

    Would never have moved here if I had known about fire ants!! My friend’s puppy was attack while I was about to leave for a final exam. I had to rush him to the doggie hospital while my friend worked to revive him. Luckily, she revived him, and with the vet’s help he survived.

    Life is a series of stories, some good, some bad, all character building.

  5. JES, I love that department. Spend a lot of time there. Anyway, I don’t know if my memory of that incident is really mine or my mother’s. It certainly scarred her.

    rowena, writing can bring us back to everything eventually–if we’re paying attention.

    Sarah, ants may have stopped the dancing on the front lawn, but rejection has yet to stop the writing. Maybe I just don’t know when to listen.

    Squirrel, there are plenty of your blog post I don’t forget. We can’t be anywhere close to even on that!

    Pamela, yeah, Florida doesn’t exactly advertise their fire ants. Wicked things.

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