Friday, October 9, 2009

40 on 40: Memories - - A Blessing or A Curse

I remember a lot of things.

From a writer's perspective, a long, detailed memory is a great gift. I always wanted to be a writer - - what happened how did I get side tracked? Maybe I just hadn't experienced enough life, created enough memories. Writers are told in every workshop to write what you know. Well, what do I know?

I used to think I knew a lot. But then I started learning things and realized how much I really don't know. Ironic how that is, isn't it?

A long, sharp memory of things long ago. Sometimes it is a blessing. Other times it is a curse. There are things I'd like to forget - - like the almost 4 years I was married to my X husband or ...well some other things I'd like to not share.

The earliest memory I have is of my parent's Rawson Avenue apartment. I was maybe 2 or 3 years old. I remember a dark linoleum floor in the kitchen, dark wood cabinet doors and I was playing with a tooth brush and the push buttons on a desk lamp my dad had. The memory itself is not extraordinary. The fact I can remember that snippet from that long ago and its not something traumatic is what is extraordinary.

Other early memories are vague, nondiscript, such as getting up at the crack of dawn , turning on the t.v. to watch the crackling black and white test pattern. Apparently, I did this often. I only have a single memory of doing this.

I was terrified of my uncle Babe. I don't know why. I knew I didn't want to be held by him when my parents did the "Pass the baby around" thing.

There are things I wish I could remember like the time I climbed out of the baby bed, scaled the diaper table, opened a jar of Vaseline, dipped my little hands into it and proceeded to rub globs of the petroleum jelly into my wispy baby hair. I then toddled into my parents' bedroom and woke them up with greasy hand pats to the face. For some reason, this seems like a fun memory to have - - but its reconstructed from my parent's memories.

I remember my parents buying the Hayes Avenue house. I don't remember the move. I do remember my dad taking me into the room that would be mine and asking me what color I wanted the walls. Looking out the window and picking at the paint on the window sill, I said, "Blue".

I think my dad was surprised by that. I like the color blue.

The Hayes Avenue house was next door to my grandparents. That was nice.

Our house had stood empty for a couple years before my parents purchased it. I remember the house being kind of scary. The floor were carpeted with a wool Berber that 20 years before had been a pretty rose color, now faded to beige. The plaster on the walls and ceiling was cracked and falling off in places. There was a large white enamelled 1950s sink in the kitchen and a huge pantry with floor to ceiling cabinets. The floor was a rainbow flecked linoleum.

The scariest place in the house was the basement. At the bottom of the dark stairway was a monster of a furnace. Its door looked like a cavernous monster's mouth, ready to gobble up an unsuspecting child. The laundry bin for the laundry chute was behind the "monster". A baby sitter once tossed our clothes down the chute and my sister and I melted down into horrified screaming and crying, certain that the monster that lurked in the basement had eaten our clothes and would then come get us.

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