Day 2: Your Earliest Memory
I remember odd moments of my life. I don’t remember entire scenes. I can’t remember childhood conversations unless they were about something big. I can remember the first time I was told that a family member passed away. I can remember when my first (and still favorite) cat died. I can remember when my mother had to sneak me out of the house late one night so my mentally and physically abusive (former) step-father wouldn’t find out. I remember the elation I felt when my father showed up at our house one Saturday afternoon to help my mother and I move out of the aforementioned step-fathers house. My childhood memories are about events, big moments, life-changing instances where nothing would ever be the same.
But there are a few random memories from early childhood that managed to find a place to hang out despite their lack of significance.
I remember watching cartoons on Saturday mornings and making sure to keep the volume down so it wouldn’t wake my mom. I remember playing outside in my favorite red cowboy boots. I remember my grandpa picking me up from daycare and taking me to watch barges go through the near-by lock-and-dam in Alton, Illinois. I remember swimming in my grandparents pool with my mom. Later when they got rid of the pool I remember playing in what I thought of as the world’s biggest sandbox where the pool used to be. I remember watching E.T at the drive-in.
What I could call my earliest memory happened when I was about 2 years old. I only know my age at the time because I asked my mom many years later if the event actually happened or if it was just a dream. I remember being in my mother’s lap in a plane and it was dark outside. That is all I remember. My mom was able to fill in the rest of the story.
I was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My mom was 18 years old, and my dad was 19. They were six months out of high school when I was born, and my dad was in the Air Force. Myrtle Beach used to have an Air Force base, and that was were my dad was stationed as an M-P. Both of my parents are from St. Louis, Missouri, and when I was two-years-old my mom decided that she wanted to go back to St. Louis to spend Christmas with her family. My parents marriage was rocky at best at the time. They married only because of the pending arrival of me. My dad bought plane tickets and sent my mom and I on our way. It turns out that the Christmas trip to St. Louis was actually to give my mom some time away from my dad to do some thinking. She was trying to decide whether or not the marriage was worth saving, or if she was ready to file for divorce.
It took 2 flights to get from Myrtle Beach to St. Louis, and the first flight was in a little bitty commuter plane. Somewhere in the flight the little plane encountered a thunderstorm and terrible turbulence. Passengers were instructed to stay in their seats and put their seat belts back on. Babies were crying. Everybody was scared as the plane was tossed to-and-fro. During all of this I was being held by my mother in her lap, and that is what I remember.
We made it to St. Louis in one piece. We celebrated Christmas with the family, and a few days later we flew (turbulence-free) back to Myrtle Beach, where my mother started packing our things and prepared to move she and I back to where she came from. The divorce was finalized. I didn’t see my dad again until I was about 5-years-old. That was his by his choosing, not my mother’s.
My first memory is vague and almost dream-like, but the story surrounding it is something I am glad I do not remember.
Until next time . . .