||[Jun. 11th, 2006|06:27 pm]
Scribite -- Write, you!
(Note: My posts on Sundays will almost always be some sort of creative memoir -- I know, I know, only my mom wants to read my diary. But I've been having a goal to keep some kind of personal history and to work on it on Sundays, so this is where it goes, yo. It seems like an appropriate thing to do.)|
Memory is such a fluid thing -- so subjective, changeable, always adjusting in the light of my current knowledge. I'm fairly certain I don't actually remember a great deal of my childhood memories. I just think I do. Some of my memories are certified lies, actual evidence prevents them from happening. Some of my memories consist of just a moment, an image, an impression, and I wonder if I got many of them by looking at old pictures of myself. Some of them I know I have fabricated from the accounts that my other family members have told me.
So I guess I'll start with my false memories, the memories I have before I COULD have memories. It seems like a reasonable place to start.
I was a good baby, I'm told. Sociable, relaxed, not fussy. I travelled to Europe when I was six months old, and evidently I was good enough on the flight that nobody tried to kill me. Which is an impressive feat, both for a baby and for a planeful of transatlantic passengers. My passport is still hanging around somewhere. I'm pudgy, pink-cheeked, with fuzzy dark hair. My expression is somewhere between bemused and irritated.
Really, not much has changed.
But of course, I don't even claim to remember any of this, unlike my father. He insists (and you can't contradict him) that he remembers standing up in his crib, a young lad of barely a year. I actually believe him. He remembers everything important that happened in the year 1453 (including, but not limited to, the fall of Constantinople), so I don't see why he shouldn't be able to remember standing in his crib in 1949.
It was a good thing I wasn't a fussy baby. When I was born, my mother had the unfortunate honor of being the mother of four children under the age of six. Nathan was five, Warren was three, and Jonathan barely 17 months when I was born. I'm told I was an accident. I prefer to think "miracle". After all, condoms are 95% effective! Combine that with my mother's stress levels when I was conceived and the fact that she was nursing (which acts as a kinda-sorta birth control), my whole existence is very unlikely.
I should become a superhero, or maybe just a world leader, with that kind of back story.
It was also a good thing I wasn't a boy. My mother was beginning to get a little frustrated. Even our cat was male. I know she wouldn't have sent me back if I'd been male, but she'd have been highly tempted. She tells me so herself.
Nathan was disappointed that I was a girl. He was getting quite used to being the leader of a posse of brothers. It took him a long time to warm up to me.
Warren was initially disappointed, but as he grew older he realized the many benefits of having a little sister in his incredibly complex childhood games. Girl parts simply had to be filled. Moreover, I was easier to tackle, pin down, and fight, and more fun to tease. I have some genuine memories of being tied up by Warren until I peed in my pants (More on that later, I'm sure), pinned down beneath a dangling string of spit, or being chased around the house, herded by threats like "I'm going to lick your eyeballs!"
Good times, good times. Despite the occasional terrorizing, Warren was a lot of fun to play with, and I would beg and plead for the opportunity to be a part of his games.
Whenever my aunts, uncles, and older cousins talk about my early childhood years, they always mention how protective Jonathan was of me. I guess I needed somebody to protect me. He declared that I was a princess and he was my champion. We were so close together in age we did almost everything together, and shared many of the same friends. For a while, I was awed by him, grateful for his protection.
By the time I was about five, it was getting old. I remember yelling at him because he insisted on holding my hand while I crossed the street. The nerve! I was a big girl! I tugged my hand away. He lunged for it again. I screamed. No street-crossing was going to happen with him hanging onto me like that! I tried to cross on my own. Jonathan pulled me back, grabbed my hand in a fiercely tight grip.
Well, as fierce as a seven-year-old can get.
I think Mom eventually intervened, declaring that I was old enough to cross the street in front of our house on my own. We'd just moved to the small, quiet white house on 35th street. It would eventually become the big red house with too many screaming children. Mom didn't want to move the boys out of their elementary school when they'd just gotten settled in, so for a few years Nathan, Warren, and Jonathan went to Page and I went to Jamestown.
I remember crossing the street on my own, to stand at the bus stop alone. I was excited. I felt victorious and independent. Nobody was holding my hand (or tying me up, or chasing me, or crowding me) now!
I was also scared out of my mind. My peers -- especially the girls -- were a mystery to me. I didn't know how to interact with them. I didn't know how to make friends. I didn't realize that anxiously leaping to answer every question the teacher had labeled me definitively as a nerd.
I wished my brothers were there.