you went somewhere else, right?
No, this isn’t anything like that. I’m talking about my first memory. People always talk about they can remember stuff as an infant, or in the womb…I can’t. I don’t remember much of anything other than 80’s trivia and movie quotes…or what I wore when I had my first dental appointment. But otherwise, I’m a complete goldfish.
Except my first cognitive memory is probably one of my very favorites memories, ever. It’s in the top five.
Because it makes me so very happy…I want to put it in writing. So when I forget someone else can remind me…I had it good…it goes like this:
I know it’s December because the windows are fogged up, there’s drizzle on the windshield and I can see the brightly colored lights on the houses as we drive past. It’s early evening, a weekend I assume…and I am headed home with my dad…
We’ve just been to see Cinderella. My hair is in ponytails and under my toasty coat, I have on my favorite dress, with my white tights and black patent leather Maryjanes. Mom had made sure I looked like a princess. That I felt like a princess. And I did. I remember how pretty I felt sitting next to my dad and that I was excited to get home and tell my mom all about the movie.
The AM radio is low, I can see my dad’s profile, the car is warm and we are laughing, looking at lights and discussing “Gus-Gus” and “Cinderelly.” He’s smiling, a smile that lit up my world. He’s using silly voices and talking about Christmas and Santa and if I’ve been a good girl or not…(I totally was!)
I don’t know where we are exactly, but I recall turning on our street, because I had already memorized the Christmas lights hanging from the homes. Not much further, I get to see my mom…
and the baby sister…who fascinated me. I wanted to hold her and tell her about Cinderella!!!
He comes around and opens my door, I feel the crisp air in my face and the tug of my hat as my dad covers my head. I rush up the driveway to the front door.
As my dad pushes the door open, I’m home. I feel the warmth of the heat, the sound of the television, the glow of the lamps in the den. I see the Christmas tree and the gifts wrapped under the tree. Mom has picked up around the room while the baby is napping, because there is NOTHING out of place. The feel, the smells, all of it…I’m home. I’m safe.
I look ahead to the kitchen, there’s my mom, in front of the oven, checking whatever deliciousness she’s cooking, my mouth watering from the smell of dinner. Table is set, she’s waiting for us.
“shhhhh! the baby is sleeping.” my mom says in a whisper, as she stands to greet us. She is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, even better than Cinderella, because she wraps me in hugs. Her smile, matches my dad’s, she’s just as happy to see us, to have the rest of her family home…because we are all there, we are all safe.
Dad walks in and greets mom, closing the door…while I am happy, purely happy…with my whole family, in that small frame house, in December, 1973. My first beloved memory.
I remember how right everything in my world felt.