Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Charcoal Shells Posted by Picasa

This is one of my favorite charcoals because it brings back happy memories. The shells we got on vacation, the day I drew them was happy and peaceful. Not all of my memories are like that. As a matter of fact, my first memories were very unhappy.

Someone was up. I can still see the shaft of amber light that radiated beneath the door.
I was small, still just a baby, alone in my crib, and surrounded by an infinite darkness that was pierced only by that shaft of amber. I was ready to get up and go. I decided I could just climb right out of the crib, which is exactly what I tried to do. I had practiced this climb and was sure I could make it. I held on with everything I had and pulled myself up. Over the rim I flung my foot, and secured it on the other side. Ok, now what?

I was farther than I had ever been, and now, I was stuck! I had gone too far to get back into the crib, yet, if I let go now, I would fall into that abysmal darkness, to be lost forever. I was trying so hard to be quiet, it was not good to disturb mommy. I must have been crying because the door opened and there she was.

Her form silhouetted against the glow of the light behind her. Suddenly the abyss wasn’t so frightening, not compared to the wrath I knew she would bring against me. But something unexpected happened. Instead of yelling, she said “are you ready to get out of bed? Did you get stuck? Here, let me help you.”

The incident shouldn’t have mattered. The trauma of being swallowed into the nothingness surely wasn’t so traumatic. Getting yelled at was not unusual. People aren’t supposed to have memories that date back before age three, and I couldn’t have been three yet. I have a distinct knowledge in that memory of being in a room at the top of the stairs. The only house I lived in like that was one I lived in before three years of age. Unless my mom lied about the age at which I was potty trained.

I also remember my mom telling me about my sister crying a lot, and thinking it was so cute that I stood at the bottom of the stairs yelling “Ki!, oh Ky!” every time she started to cry. I am 16 months older than my sister, so I must have been close to that age.

I know I was being potty trained when we lived at the house on Highland. I remember it because my grandma Irene had come to visit and was leaving. We were walking her out to her car. Something caught my eye.
There was this most beautiful woman riding her bike with such grace and elegance down the street. I watched her bare feet as they somersaulted, heal over toe over heal. I was completely mesmerized. Her long brown hair was twisted into elegant braids. She passed me without even a glance. It was magic.

Of course, my adult memory recognizes that she was probably all of nine or ten, and that she was just a little girl riding her bike up and down the street on a hot summer evening. That would have put me at about 20 months!

As I was watching her ride away down the street, I was suddenly shocked back into “reality” with a swift swat on the butt, and an angry mother yelling that she had told me not to go into the street! I remember my grandmothers face. She was shocked, surely more by my mothers violence than by my act, but I saw it as concurrence at that time. I was sent into the house, crying.

My step dad met me in the kitchen. “Why are you crying?” he asked. I tried to tell him about the beautiful woman on the bike, failing miserably to be understood. “Are you saying you have to go ‘try’?” Try was the word for having a bm in the potty chair. The next thing I knew, that was where I was, in the bathroom, on the potty chair, step dad saying “Try, Cheri, Try!”

So according to these memories, I had to have been living on Highland just before I turned two. I remember that before we moved, my aunt Mila was visiting, trying to shame me into not wetting the bed. My sister was already successfully potty trained then. So that memory had to be closer to four.

I know we moved out of that house when I was four. That was when my great-grandpa Al sold my mom and step dad a house for a more than reasonable price.

I don’t know why any of that is important. Why would my mind hold onto such memories? The one thing they all have in common was the intense fear I felt for my mother. I think that is sad. I wish I didn’t have to be afraid of my mother. I wish that I had a mother that I could love and confide in. Someone who would tell me I’m loved and valued. No matter what, no matter. I can’t make this feeling disappear. A large part of me really doesn’t want to. How can I miss so much a thing I’ve never had?


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