The memory is a funny thing, or at least mine is. It “works”, which I say in quotations because some might argue whether or not it works at all, in funny ways. There are things that stick in my mind so vividly that I could recall the event in perfect detail, even two and a half decades removed (which would mean the event happened when I was 7.)
I remember a great deal of my childhood, or at least a good deal more than most people seem to, yet you can tell me on my way out the door not to forget to remove something from the car before I leave, and in the twenty paces between the house and the car, it will completely remove itself from my attention. (This happened last week).
For the technology geeks in the audience, I liken this to having a large hard drive, but not a whole lot of ram…
I remember being in diapers, and running around an apartment that we moved away from when I was two years old. My most vivid memory in this place was that one of my brothers (who at the time would have been 15 years old, or so) had Reeses Pieces, which I discovered in his room, and began to eat. I remember wanting to share them with him, but he ran. I remember chasing him down the hall, and thinking that if he ducked into the bathroom, the chase would be over, he’d be gone. Sure enough, he did, and I thought he disappeared.
Some years later, when I was perhaps five or so, we’d moved out of there, but only across the park to another apartment. I was laying in bed, on my side. You know when you’re laying on your side, and your pillow is pressed against your ear, and you can hear your heartbeat? I remember that happening for the first time (or at least, noticing it for the first time) and thinking it was the sound of a man in the basement with a gigantic wrench, and he was unscrewing the cap on a large brown pipe… Obviously, because I had my head to the surface, the sound was coming from below. I was clearly too young to realize the basement was two floors away. Hey, it made sense to me, and that’s all that matters when you’re five.
I imagined once he got the cap off, a large snake would emerge from the pipe… I remember that thought in great clarity, the man wore overalls, and large yellow boots, and a denim hat, like a train engineer would have worn. The wrench was a ridiculously over-sized adjustable wrench. The snake would have been green.
As I grew older, I realized the pipe I was thinking of, would have had to have been the cast iron soil pipe, and the wrench would have been opening the clean out. The wrench probably wouldn’t have been adjustable, and the snake would definitely have been brown…
I remember once around the same time that my mother had left me alone for about forty minutes, while she ran up to the video store. Times were different then, I wouldn’t leave my six year old alone for four minutes, let alone forty, but I had TV, and honestly would have been fine…
Except that this particular time, I had to go to the bathroom. I was old enough to handle this on my own, of course, so no big deal. Though, I was very interested in the show I was watching. So much so, that I waited a little too long, and by the point of no return, I was only half way up the stairs, and I messed myself.
I was mortified. I remember thinking “That was my last pair of undies, I haven’t done laundry yet!” …Oh yes, I was doing laundry at the age of 5. Believe it, it’s true. I don’t have the first time I did laundry as part of this post, because I don’t remember it… I must have been pretty young! Anyway, by the time my mother got home, I was crying. She asked what was wrong, and I told her. What I remember most about this, was that when I told her I really had to go, and I just couldn’t make it, she didn’t buy it… “No, I don’t believe that!” she said. I still remember the look on her face, as she shook her head when she said that. “Now tell me the truth!” I knew that if I continued to tell the truth, she’d get madder… So I told her “I felt like it.” Now, THAT she believed! I got in lots of trouble, but at least the discussion was over.
I remember my first time seeing a “floater”… You know, those funny shapes floating around, caused by the proteins on your eye? I was around five or six, and I thought it was Wonder Woman’s invisible air plane, flying by.
I remember my first prank call… The girl a couple apartments down and I were possibly six or seven, and we decided to prank the only phone number we knew… “0”. We called the operator. I don’t remember what it was that I said, when it was my turn, but after I hung up, the girl I was with said “There’s a strange man in my house and he won’t leave!” to which the operator said “Uh huh.”. We hung up and called back a couple times, and eventually, we hung up… and the phone rang. We looked at each other, and she answered. The operator called us back! She knew who we were, and threatened to send the police!
We told her we understood, and wouldn’t do it anymore. We went about our business for the rest of the day, and by bed time the guilt was gnawing at me. I told my mother “I feel guilty. I don’t know why, but I feel like I prank called the operator, and she said she’d call the police.” (you know, for example…) She asked if I just felt that way, or if I really did it… I told her I just felt like that. She told me that she’d talked to the neighbor, and my partner in crime had a similar story… only she confessed. Busted.
The funny part about remembering these things, is I see my daughter having some similar experiences, and thinking no one knows what she’s thinking… But I do.
Do you remember anything like this from your early years?