What are your earliest memories? We all have them, but how far back do they go. If you could take them out and look at them now, would you say they helped to shape the person you are today?
I have a few very early memories. I mean VERY early. The first being when I was maybe late two or very early three. I know it was this age as it was before my mom married my dad (another day for that story). I was an early riser from what I can tell. I was up alone and hungry. So to feed myself, I pulled out a new bag of cheeto type snacks and proceeded to dump the entire contents into my little ride along ducky. It was a yellow duck with wheels on it, with the belly hollow for toys or blocks or whatever. Then I rolled about the apartment on the ducky, eating cheetos along the way. It was a good time for my young self. Until my mother woke, that is. She saw my ducky full of cheesy goodness and yelled at me to not eat one more! Not one more! Well, as a prequel to my future self, I remember pulling one more cheeto out of the belly of that ducky, and crunching it noisily as she stood there yelling at me. I can still see her face to this day. It turned this funny shade of not quite red and not quite purple before she grabbed my arm with the squeezing power of a cinch and said right in my now frightened face, “What did I just say?” It was in that voice that causes children all over the world to shiver in fear. How did I reply? “You said not one more cheeto, but I thought you meant out of the bag, not the ones in my duck.” You and I and my mother now should realized that bag, was empty. My response did not go over all that well. I don’t think I sat down the rest of that day.
Another early memory was soon thereafter. I call it the tree incident. Again being an early riser, I was up and about at the break of dawn. My sister (one year older that my three-ish years) was up as well and we decided to go outside and play and let mommy and “Bill” sleep (my future dad). So we went outside and into the square courtyard of the apartment complex. Off to the side was a tree that I liked to climb. Now I could climb into the tree just fine. It was getting out that I had a bit of trouble with. Just one step, I found troublesome. The last big step out of the tree was too big for my little legs to make it by myself. You only need to fall out of a tree once to realize it’s problematic. However, with the help of my sister, I could always get out of the tree without issue. That morning, I climbed up and as high as I could go. I liked to sit up within the branches and leaves and watch the world without it watching me back. I loved that tree. My sister suddenly jumped out of the tree and said she’d be right back, she had to go to the bathroom. I didn’t care. I was happy up in the tree. It was only after she was gone that I realized I had to go to the bathroom too, but I couldn’t get out of the tree. I sat up there and waited for her to come back. I watched one of the older couples come out and set up their chairs. Another man soon joined them. They sipped coffee and murmured back and forth to one another right under my tree. My sister never came back for me. I really had to go. I tried to get out of the tree by myself, but couldn’t do it. I was afraid of that last step. I started to cry. That was when the threesome of older people took note of me. When they understood my dilemma, one man climbed up to get me out. I didn’t say thank you, I just raced home as soon as my feet touched the ground and into the house where my sister was bouncing on the bed of my mom and Bill. No one cared that I was gone. No one cared that I had been stuck up in a tree and that a STRANGER had to get me out. They just laughed at me and said not to climb that tree anymore. I felt very lonely that day. I remember the feeling. I remember the incident.
The cheeto moment didn’t so much make me who I am today, but it did seem to make cheetos taste funny ever after. The tree incident however, changed me. Being spanked was no big deal, it was not the first time and would not be the last by a long shot. But being forgotten was. Feeling like no one cared that I was stuck in a tree, scared and forgotten, hurt me and changed me. That moment in my life shaped me.
To be continued….