The First Memories
I will start as early as I remember:
My parents’ bedroom in the dark, my head weighed heavily on my mother’s breast. The slow, steady movement of the rocking chair next to the window. My cheek rested on my mother’s night gown, a soft satin sensation that left my tiny hands grabbing for more. Comfortable. Safe. Tired. Satisfied.
The sun batting me awake. So bright I thought it could blind me through my eyelids. My brother, Eli, to blame. We shared a brown or maybe orange buggy, barely large enough for the two of us. The topper was a quarter sphere and connected at the buggy’s midpoint, and as such only shaded half the buggy at a time. Eli had flipped the cover to the other side. We were at Valley Fair, I think, off to the right near the antique cars. But, like a dream, they weren’t there. Someone had cotton candy, pink not blue, and I wanted some for my face. Not to feed my face, but for rubbing because it looked soft. Also, there were no clouds, which ruined my nap. I was not strong enough to flip the cover back, nor even to stand up. So I lay there in misery, plotting, formulating a plan to change places with my brother.
It was autumn. I awoke in the darkness of my bed and wandered downstairs. I found no one there. My mother and father had not yet divorced. It was strange that one of them would not be there if the lights were on. I knew the button for the TV. I also knew it was way past my bedtime. I decided to hide underneath one of the wood framed chairs, which, looking back, means I curled up to about the size of a ten pound bag of flour. The TV channel was the Home Box Office. I remember the HBO lettering, even though I certainly couldn’t read yet. The program that started had a beach setting in the evening. At one point, one of the actors was (I think) the guy who played the classic nerd in every early 80s movie made. My memories may be confused, but in one of his movies he opens a beer bottle with his eye…. Anyway, there were definitely boobs on the TV at some point. Women boobs, which were much more substantial and I dare say rewarding in some way? I wanted to keep watching, though I could not have said why. Mom and Dad walked in shortly after. They couldn’t figure out why the TV was on. A quick search included the kitchen, the back room, and the bathroom before they found me. They had been out for a walk. I wonder what they talked about, being so close to their divorce. Dad dragged me to bed by the arm, perhaps more roughly than was necessary.
It was summer, and the family was at a cabin, including Dad, so again, probably before the divorce. Eli and I had action figures, Dr. Doom and Captain America among them (the ones released in 1984). The cabin had one light above a card table. Dad emptied a bag of assorted Hershey’s chocolates onto it and told us to have some. I liked the ones with the nuts. The entire family was there.
I remember answering that I was three years old, though I don’t remember who asked.
You should know that I often dressed up in my mother’s nighties (so soft!). And I do mean that plural. I put on as many as four nighties at a time (so so so so soft!). Then, like a beauty queen without a float, I would sometimes parade down the sidewalk outside. Where some boys may have been mortified to be labeled a mama’s boy, considering this a walk of shame, I was never and have never been ashamed to be like my mother, whose unfaltering kindness patiently stripped from me the common desire of boys to benefit themselves by controlling other living things. But my mom was embarrassed. She would recruit my brothers as regulators. Sending them to collect me from the street corner where, had we lived in a larger city, I am likely to have been propositioned for illegal activities. And, yes, there are photos. To add to their delight, my mouth is smeared over with chocolate. I am smiling. Good times.
This behavior may be explainable by the first memory listed above, but I do not remember the exact chronology, just that these things happened. I guess the point is that I have been a conscious creature, actively making decisions that I could later reflect on, since I was approximately three. The stories to follow in this blog are the unique and often unfortunate ones that constitute me.