My memory begins with water in my nose.
It is the earliest thing I can remember.
Lake Champlain in Vermont, I am one and half years old in my little bathing suit.
My parents are on their way across the country,
my dad has a job waiting for him in Renton, WA at a large aircraft manufacturer.
We are enjoying a day at the beach and this is my first experience playing in a large body of water,
outside of a bath,
which I very often had in the sink by my mother.
The water in my nose burns the nostrils and I cry.
It hurts and it is a sensation I will never forget.
Next, I remember being inside a car.
I was so small I was standing on the front seat, holding the steering wheel
and looking out at my parents,
and I think my grandparents who came to visit.
They are looking at the car I am in, there is another man, must be a salesman
and they are talking about buying the car.
It is a Packard Standard, gray in color, a straight-eight engine.
One day I am walking down the hallway in our little house in Renton and I look into the laundry room
as I pass, it is narrow,
I see my mother by the washing machine, she is undressed, naked, and I see something red,
a clump of red hair where her legs meet.
She seems startled by my looking at her.
It seems as though this is something forbidden,
something I shouldn’t see.
My father would sing to me. I was in a lower part of a bunk bed. There was one above as well.
He would sing “Down In The Valley”,
Down in the valley, the valley so low, late in the evening you can hear the train blow,
Soon I would be asleep. This song still makes me sleepy to this day.
I am playing with my hamster.
I am jumping up and down on the guest bed in the den.
I am holding the hamster. He is going up and down with me.
I am laughing, I am happy, my hamster is playing with me,
I am playing with my hamster, but something goes wrong,
my hamster falls out of my hands and behind the bed by the wall.
I cannot see my little hamster. I run to my mother,
who comes and pulls the bed away from the wall.
She finds my little hamster. She holds him in her hands.
My mother has tears in her eyes, I have never seen this before.
She is angry at me, she says the poor little hamster has broken his back.
She tells me to go down the street to my friends.
I do as she says.
Later when I return I ask about my little hamster.
She says she buried him in the backyard.
She tells me I must be more careful with little animals.
I am so young and confused.
And I am so sorry for what I have done, my hamster, my little poor hamster.
I am so sorry God please forgive me, please.
I am playing with a toolset I was given for Christmas,
in the front yard under the big tree next to the house.
For some reason, I get mad at the tools. I don’t know why.
I throw the tools up in the air,
they rain down on me,
the screwdriver hits my head,
I realize it was a bad thing to do, throw the tools in the air.
I try to gather them up, but I cannot find them all.
I ask my mother to play hide and seek in the house with me.
She says she has work to do and cannot play with me now.
I go back to doing something else, after a while, I notice I have not
heard my mother for some time.
I start to look around.
I can’t find her anywhere.
I start calling for her.
“Mommy, where are you?
I am in her and daddy’s bedroom and she stands up from behind the mirrored
She is smiling. She fooled me. She was playing hide and seek, but
I didn’t know it.
I am visiting a friend, just a block away from our house.
My friend’s mother mentions my mother, says she is away and I must stay at their house
until she returns.
I panic! My mother gone, without me?
I run out of their house and up the street to my house.
I go in the backyard to look through the kitchen window to see if mommy is there.
She’s not there! I start to pound on the back door, even though nobody is home.
I start to call out for my mommy!
Mommy where are you. I want my mommy!
I am crying and don’t know what to do.
Then I don’t remember how long I waited, but eventually, my mommy came back.
She was mad at me for not staying at my friend’s house.
My dad and I are flying a balsa wood airplane on a basketball court near our home.
Dad winds up the propeller with the rubber band and then he lets it go.
It taxis and takes off into the air, it flies away then comes down.
We like things that fly.
We are flying a kite in the park and the kite is way, way high up in the sky.
The kite is so tiny and far away up in the sky.
It doesn’t seem possible that we are connected to that kite by the string tied to it,
but we are and I watch it. I am amazed how far away it is.