Please enjoy this post where I tell you a story about an event from my life. Nothing more, nothing less. Today’s story: disjointed memories from age three.
My grandmother (mom’s mother) buys me a dollhouse for my birthday. I desperately want a dollhouse but she has made a fatal mistake. The dollhouse she buys me is made of plastic instead of wood. I run my hands along its smooth surfaces and try to kick it over. It bends under the weight of my legs but doesn’t break.
I hate it more because of that.
My mom made me a list in green marker and hung it on my wall. Its comprised of pictures and letters telling me what to do every morning. I love its order. I run my hands over the picture about putting on socks. I go to the dresser and make a mistake. The drawer pulls out of the dresser all the way and falls, straight down, onto my leg. I scream like a trapped animal but no one comes. I lay on the floor, crying and starring at the ceiling. Eventually I extract myself from the drawer. I leave it on the floor. No one asks me how it got there.
It’s Thanksgiving. My mom pulls the liver, the giblets, and a bag of blood out of the turkey and I stare at its hollow inside. The bag of blood is exciting, like finger paint! I open it and dip my fingers in, dragging them along on the table while my sister makes a gagging face. Then the power goes out and we all grope around in the dark for flashlights and candles.
I forget my hands are still covered in blood.
My dad tells me this movie takes place during October 8th. I scream in delight. That’s my birthday!
As an adult I realize I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to watch The Hunt for Red October at all.
I pitch a fit when my mom doesn’t let me bring my silver yoga mat to the airport to pick up my grandmother (dad’s mother). I tell my grandmother about my yoga mat immediately and her face is sour. She smells like the same smoke as my dad. That’s how I know they’re related.My mom runs a red light driving me to preschool. The cop pulls her over and asks her a bunch of questions. I hold my stuffed animal (Ellie, a blue elephant with purple spots) tighter as we wait. After the officer leaves, my mom just stays there. Dead still. Her head on the steering wheel and her eyes full of tears. I don’t know why.
The washing machine overflows. The water runs down and down and down the stairs. My dad yelps when it rolls under the door into his office. Eventually they get the water shut off but by then there’s a puddle on the carpet downstairs. I bring my blanket to the edge of the puddle and smooth it out in a perfect square next to it. Like a picnic at the beach.
The market is too loud but I love it. The market is colors and shapes and blurs. It’s the smell of sweets and the sizzle of frying. It’s the heat of bodies and the flash of smiles. It’s exotic foods and live animals and yelling.
We buy two coconuts and the four of us (mom, dad, sister, and I) sit on the floor in the kitchen and try to puzzle them open. It takes two hammers and an inordinate amount of laughing. This is the first, last, and only memory I have of the four of us happy together.
I bring the coconut flesh to my mouth but it’s strange tasting, almost sour. I don’t understand why I don’t like the taste of happiness like everyone else does.
My mom is impatient in the kennel. There’s got to be at least a hundred cats and dogs, all making noise and moving around. “Just pick one” says snipes at my father but he carefully goes to each cage and tries to woo each cat to him.
My sister tortures a dog by yelling in its face. I’m being held in my mothers arms and she shifts my weight to the floor, then goes to the end of the row of cages where a small, mostly white ball is unobtrusively tucked in the corner.
“This one” she says. It’s the only animal in the entire place that wants no part of any interaction. My sister begs that we take the white cats brother too. We don’t. My mom regrets it.
My dad spends two weeks crying in his office. I don’t know why. The day he stops crying he brings me a book with plastic pages and a sheet of stickers to place inside it.
Every day for weeks on end he brings me stickers.
I almost forget that he is sad.
We have to move and I don’t want to. I’m not sure I know what moving is but they make me put all my stuff in a box and I angrily plod around the house letting everyone know I don’t want my things in a box. I want to play with all my toys. I want to listen to all my records. I want all my stuffed animals on my bed.
When the truck comes and takes the boxes and my bed away I scream. I promise to be good if they give me my things back.
I love Spaceballs. I watch it over and over. It’s like all the space stories I like but different. I like to hold the cat while I watch it. When it’s over, I rewind the tape. The best part is when the dog man talks. I think I want to go to space, even if I have to go with a dog.
I have a scary dream. I fall out of bed onto the pillows that my parents piled up on the floor. Beds without sides take time to get used to, my dad said. The dream had tunnels and a shopping mall. There was a giant Barbie and dynamite. This is the first dream I remember remembering. No one had said anything in the dream so I worry I’m deaf now. I knock on the floor just to hear the sound. Turns out I’m not deaf yet.
It’s snowing outside. The cat clings to the window screen chattering at the birds sheltered under the roof. My friend Christina comes over and we play pirates on the stairs. We play pirates in the snow. When I go to search for treasure outside in the “ocean” I fall asleep in the snow and when I wake up my entire body hurts and chatters.
I’m not allowed to play in the snow again for a while.
The boardwalk at Jones Beach is hot. The sand is hot. The water is even hot. Everything is hot. Instead of ice cream though, I beg my dad to give me money for french fries. I buy them by myself handing over the greasy, folded bills to the vendor while I stand on my toes to reach the counter.
As I walk back to our spot by the boardwalk a seagull flies down and lifts the plate clean out of my hands.
Neither of my parents will get a second plate. They make it seem like it’s my fault.
My sister is full is great ideas.
One time we jump on the bed while she feeds me popcorn and M&Ms.
Another time she pushes me off our shed so that I can feel like I’m flying.
Another time she straps me to a sled and pushes me down the stairs while the door is closed. I nearly slam into the door but at the last second my dad comes home, opening the door. I slip outside, surprised and delighted.
Another time we play hide and seek with my sisters friends and she locks me in a closet that doesn’t open from the inside and I cry until my mom finds me.
Another time she makes me drink a lot of mouthwash and I throw up for an hour.
Okay, so some of her ideas aren’t great.
We go to see Three Men and a Little Lady at the drive in movie theater.
We drive there in the station wagon, with its sunroof and its cozy seats that recline all the way. During the first act, my sister spills fruit punch on the floor. My mom starts yelling and my dad tells us to go sit on the roof and wait. We are banished there for the entire movie while they argue.
No one ever cleans up the fruit punch. The stain remains.