There are two things about my memory: (1) It is primarily visual, and (2) it goes waaaayyyyyy back. I may have mentioned this before, but I can remember potty training. Not the whole ordeal of it of course, but I have scenes in my head that I can play back to myself, twenty some years later. I can remember the pattern of the wallpaper in my living room while sitting on the little training potty. The next part of the story is a little bit TMI, so I leave that part of the story in my head.
But the point was that I can access these little movie clips of my life at will. There is no clumsy remote or broken DVD player to worry about. I simply have to think of a period in my life and scenes line up in my own private theater for my viewing pleasure. Not that all of them are happy, feel-good films, or witty comedies. Some are very clearly in the drama category, and some are occasionally suspense or even horror.
Luckily, the horror genre of my memory does not offer a wide selection. I would like to keep it that way. However, some of the titles that do haunt me are:
- Pet Bunny Gets Terminal Botflies
- Priest Describes Horrible Things He Did to KITTENS When He Was a Boy to Fifth Grade Religion Class
- ET Surely Lives in My Basement OMG I Have to Run Up the Stairs SO FAST or He Will GRAB MY ANKLES.
I also have my share of cooking show/Food network style flicks:
- Boiling Water in Pyrex Dish: The Rise, the Fall, the Aftermath
- Apple Pie Fail: A call for help.
- Learning to Die with Dignity: Memoirs from the Jeanine Cake from Taste of Heaven
I could make lists of titles for days and days. But right now I want to mention some of the most vivid clips that are stuck in my mind. What is strange to me is that although some of these scenes correlate with very important moments in my life, some aren’t necessarily huge turning points. I just see them very clearly is all.
Again, I could go on forever. Lets start at the beginning:
- I was bundled up for cold weather. I look down at the boards of the jungle gym at the playground behind our house in Virginia. My dad is going to catch me at the bottom of the slide, but first I have to get there without falling through the cracks in the jungle gym platform. They seemed so wide to me.
- I am wearing Oshkosh forest-green corduroy overalls. I am feeling really proud of myself because I am totally able to dress myself with the easy closures on these bad boys. Until disaster strikes and one of the suspender thingys falls in the toilet as I am trying to manage everything by myself. I am sad that I have to ask for help. Crying ensues.
- My baby brother has tiny hands that squeeze when I place my index finger in them. The only thing I love holding this much is the sateen corner of my blanket. I am wearing pink fuzzy footed pjs.
- Grandpa is napping. We pretend he is a cat. We are baby birds that Grandma “hatches.” We curl up in a little ball by her side, and then emerge from blue afgan eggs. We peep around the living room looking for worms, trying to avoid waking the sleeping “cat.”
- Zoobilee Zoo is awesome. And Grandma has made saltine crackers with lemon icing. I live next door, but assume both houses are mine.
- It is my first day of ballet class in Michigan. I have my new leotard on and the place smells like a musty warehouse. I like it. My friend, Rachel, introduces me to my best friend, Alicia. It was the first time we met, and I thought she was so pretty. Her hair was kind of messy compared to all the other girls in class. We become friends forever.
- It is the first day of high school. I know zero people. I am sitting in the auditorium near the back, wearing a fake fur skirt, combat boots, purple tights, black tank top, ball-chain necklaces, and purple hair. There may have also been some eye makeup. A boy with purple spiky hair and black leather pants approaches me after the orientation. We become friends forever.
- I am sitting with my boyfriend on the roof of his garage in Arizona. We are watching the sun rise over the purple mountains that are on fire. A yellow tree full of blossoms is hanging over us. I realize with incredible clarity that I am in love, and there is no going back. My stomach flips. I don’t tell him just then.
- Driving home from my Grandma’s funeral, my friend calls me to tell me that her Grandma had also died that week. I remember passing a lot of semis on a straight highway in northern Indiana. She told me that before grandma passed, her grandpa held her hand and told her that “She had done well.” I want to bawl my eyes out, but don’t want to hit the semis so I contain myself for the most part. Two days later, I finish reading Time Traveller’s Wife and cry longer and harder than I have in a long time.
- Justin and I are waiting on the train platform in the morning. It is cold and windy, so I smash-up next to him to avoid the wind. I am warm and he calls me a penguin.