Loss of Memory

Outside the night is still. The streets are vacant as the city sleeps.

I lie awake, as I do most nights. I recall the past day, my sucesses and my failures. I remember the funny things Cole said, marvel at how energetic Roark was at 8:30pm, and mentally prepare myself for tomorrow. I am glad nobody else is awake - that I am able to escape the constant demands that seem to never cease during the day.

It is also at night that I try to remember everything I have forgotten. I have for as long as I remember played this little game with myself at night when I am unable to sleep. I close my eyes and try to capture new memories, things I have not thought about for years. I start with a very early, solid memory and try to extend it, try to follow it further ahead or back a few hours, days, years.

Somewhere between the ages of birth and 5, I am able to remember so many more things than I would think possible.

I remember two neighbors from the 'Big House' trying to fly a giant red kite in the church parking lot.

I remember sitting on top of the swing-set belting out "sitting at the top of the world."

I remember watching a scary movie with a hand that crawled around by itself, with my mom and brother.

I remember my parents finding some baby squirrels (or was it rabbits?) outside and bringing them inside to try to save them - they lived in a shoebox for a while (a day? a week?) and then died.

I remember being in sunday school, playing the piano - having a stiff neck so bad that I couldn't move my head at all in either direction.

I remember a little boy (a friend of mine) missing - the whole neighborhood searching for him. We found him hours later, asleep in my dresser drawer where I kept my dolls.

I remember the boy who lived across the street getting in trouble for trying to convince me to play in the rain naked.

I remember the first Christmas after my father left us - when he still felt obligated to send presents. I woke to a living room full of surprises - a cardboard refridgerator and sink, pretend food, play dishes. I also discovered real oranges in my stocking. This made me very happy.

I remember visiting my father's family in Cincinnati and my uncle giving me a stuffed pink weasel for Christmas. For some reason I had always thought my dad gave it to me, but now I actually remember who did (See? The memory game works). I named him Wesley the Weasel. He is in the boys' toybox as I write this.

I remember walking to Kindergarten by myself.

I remember the neighbor girls scraping up their arms with rose thorns and claiming my brother did it. I also remember their mother coming over to our house trying to fight with my mom about the incident. I got locked outside with the crazy neighbor...where I cried and cried on the front porch until my mom let me in. I am still not sure if she let me in before, or after the police showed up. Oh, and crazy-neighbor-lady put her arm through the glass storm door trying to get at my mom.

I remember not wanting to ride in the baby seat on the back of Little Tom's dad's bike to the park - wanting to ride my own bike with training wheels. I also remember getting sent to my room for crying about it - forced to take a nap instead.

I remember being woken up and taken down into the basement during a tornado. We slept there all night.

I remember not picking my toys up after my mom had screamed "for the umpteenth time, put your toys away or I will give them to children who will appreciate them" and watching her stuff evrything in trash bags and take it all out to the garage to be thrown out. I also remember her giving in and letting us keep pretty much all of it.

I remember laying in my crib and throwing my pacifiers out repeatedly so that my papa would come into my room and give them back. He would crawl in, staying out of mi sight, pop his head up so I could see him and then give them back. I would laugh and laugh and we would repeat this until I fell asleep. This may be my earliest memory.

I remember my parents yelling and fighting and my mother slamming the oven door shut - and my father slamming the back door after leaving.

I remember Mrs. Monhock - an evil older lady who would babysit us. I really didn't like her much at all. She washed my mouth out with soap for saying "shut up!"

I remember a little girl stapling her finger in kindergarten and having to go home. I also remember that she missed the oragami lady that came later and tried to show us how to make a swan. We were 5, so there were very few of us who made anything resembling anything other than crumpled paper.

I remember finding candy and makeup in the alley on the way to school (or was it the way home?) and my brother and I hiding it so nobody would know. I also remember eating the candy...we were lucky we didn't kill ourselves!

I remember hiding in a wicker basket at Little Tom's house and them looking all over for me. His dad told me I was lucky there were no snakes in there that day - because they usually kept cobras in there. It was a lie of course, but I didn't know that. I never did that again.

I remember an older kid (as instructed by his mother - who was RIGHT THERE) standing in the middle of his living room facing me, pushing me repeatedly and telling me that I was not invited to his birthday party. I cried and cried - and then hid in a bunch of pillows they had on their futon type matress on the floor in their living room. I also remember this same idiot mother carrying her younger son on her shoulders (the kid that was found in my dresser). He fell off her shoulders and whacked his head on cement. I kind of felt like she deserved to have that happen to her. I felt bad for her son though.

I remember before I had even started kindergarten, I would go to a baysitter's house during the day. The sitter, Mrs Pepper, had a daughter (Wendy?) my age. The highlights of my days in that dark, depressing house were watching the mailman come, and jumping on her mom's bed at naptime. This bed-jumping got me in quite a bit of trouble one time. Some guy (older son? husband? random man?) locked me in the basement, turned off the lights and told me the boogyman was going to get me. I have no idea how long I was down there. I sat on the steps by the door and cried. When they let me out, they made me take a nap in a baby crib because they said I was "being a big baby."

I remember traveling halfway across the country to some farm so that my mom could see the Guru Maharashi. We slept in a barn. My mother fell out of the hay loft one night and broke her arm. I think that is when we went home.

I remember my brother and I stealing rubarb out of the neighbor's garden. We would climb onto our garage roof, sit behind the basketball goal and eat it.

I remember our kitchen being a construction disaster most of the time. I think my dad was either adding on to the house of remodeling the back half. I am not entirely sure he ever finished it. I also remember the bed he built in my room - and how much I loved that it looked like a princess bed - framing the window.

I remember white gloves, a pretty hat, and a new dress and gray coat on Easter Sunday. I felt so perfect.

I remember my brother's prized Tony The Tiger stuffed animal and how he lost it when he ran away from home and hid in the window well at Sunnyside Church.

I remember my brother pretending he was sick so that he could stay up and watch TV when we had babysitters. He would put hot towels on his head and wrap the thermometer in them as well so that they would think he had a fever.

I remember goofing around in my brother's room, ignoring my mother's demands to "go to bed right now" and laughing so hard that I wet his bed - sprinkler style - straight up in the air... This still makes laugh to myself thinking about it now.

I remember eating space sticks. Lots of them. But I don't have any idea what they were made of.

I remember sitting by the heating vent in my room (where my crib had once been) playing with my tea set.

I rememebr my mom's sewing room in the back of her bedroom. And her closet that connected over the stairs to Shawn's closet. I also remember being assaulted by the numerous long-legs spiders that lived in there.

I remember being late for church on Sunday, hiding behind the cardboard refridgerator in my room. I didn't want to go past my closet door because I was convinced there were monsters in there waiting to get me. So I waited there, yelling for my brother to help me until my mother lost her everloving mind and threatened to leave at home alone. My brother finally rescued me.

I remember Uncle Tom bringing us inner tubes for the lake and a giant tractor tire that he made into a sandbox. He wass also our supplier of STP stckers and NFL football pencils (I liked the Steelers and th Dolphins because of the colors)

I remember my brother dropping a crowbar on my foot.

I remember all of the men my mother dated; the science teacher who had a farm, my ski coach, the man in th A frame house who always gave me a new book everytime I saw him, the real estate friend who's daughter was in my class. I was always so quickly attached to them and so sad when I didn't see them again.

I remember all of these things from such an early age. My mother always said that I had the most amazing memory. And yet there is this gap of two years when my mother was remarried. I remember nothing.

Outside the night is still. The streets are vacant as the city sleeps. And I lay here playing the memory game, trying to reveal the hidden one or two years of my life, yet hoping I never do.