Mail Delivery Subsystem (pathos_bill) wrote,
Mail Delivery Subsystem
pathos_bill

Long-term memory burn in Osh-Koshes

My earliest memory is the image of my mom, dad, and sister going down the stairs as I stand in my crib. Then it skips a year or two.

Presently I was three years old and my mom was thirty-nine, and it had been that way my whole life. I knew that most days I was in the family room in a yellow plastic chair that said Little Tinker. My elderly babysister Peggy sat in the corner recliner. I understood that my parents were at work and my sister Miriam was at Doolittle School. I imagined her school was a capacious room with a gymnasium-height vaulted ceiling. The great schoolroom windows refracted sunlight just like the family room window did, spotlighting the neverending stream of flying dust in the dark. The bespectacled teacher woman spoke from a platform, facing hundreds of seats, most of them empty. Sitting through hours of soap operas at home, I liked to listen when a plane passed over. Sometimes I imagined the places they were flying in from. Luscious fields in Ireland; the idea of Hartford felt as exotic as that, exotic as Doolittle School. I was never allowed to leave my Little Tinker.

I was frightened of Peggy. I remember her locking me out in the cold garage one morning, stripped to my underwear on the cold concrete. It took me weeks or months to get brave enough to tell my mom about it. Mom said, but I also told her that Peggy locked me in my bedroom closet, remember? I didn't remember the closet and I didn't remember telling her about one.

One day when my sister came home from school it was decreed that our model train set was missing a miniature piece and that I had lost it. It was definitely in the red toy box or maybe it wasn't and I had to look through it. The toy box was a tall wooden wagon big enough for me to sleep in, stuffed with games and dolls past the brim. It was too big for me to reach even close to the bottom. I didn't know what I had done but there was no point protesting with these two girls. I would become well acquainted with this feeling: haplessness and dull outrage, borne of being misunderstood and unbelieved.

***

Later in my childhood, my parents would tell me about the books they used to read to me and the funny protolingual names I had for things. Alongside those cute items, my mom recounted the two Peggy horror stories I told her. (I can feel that feeling again.) I could still swear I never mentioned a closet (My closet didn't even have a lock!) and my memory of the garage was as fresh as it ever was. I just couldn't remember anymore whether it was a dream or an experience.
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