Waste is a terrible thing to mind and the mind a terrible thing to waste. But the mind tends to store things at random even when we find them to be waste. We can set things to memory by simply repeating it so often that inevitably it is saved within our minds and easily recalled at will. But other things, ideas, and events in our lives are automatically saved, unconsciously, and recalled when prompted or even on a whim. Some memories are best forgotten. Most are essential in our day to day living, without them we would wake up every morning failing to remember who we were. I don’t have to ask myself everyday before the mirror, “Who are you?” I just know, thanks to memory.
I consider myself an openly gay man. I do not care who knows it, it is not a secret, but all together the same it is no one’s business. It is not something I broadcast; I do not flaunt it, but I do not hide it either. If asked point blank, I will answer in the affirmative. How long have I known about my homosexuality? Forever! How long ago did I learn of my attraction for the same gender? Well, for as far back as I can remember. As far back as my mind can search through the memories it chose to keep accessible, for I fear there are many more kept dormant, kept covert. Memories scattered within my mind like pieces of a puzzle waiting to be placed together for the big picture to be revealed.
My mind reels far back to my toddler years. A small collection of snapshots of a day in my life, as if I were a bystander watching the past unfold. Back to the genesis of my self-identity. Back to my earliest memory….
A pair of lime green steel doors on a small adobe house come to focus. I am standing on the narrow cobblestone sidewalk abutting the building. This is my house, my home. I know that beyond those doors there is love and safety. This is the place where I am sheltered from the elements, sheltered from harm.
I am facing another child approximately my age though a bit taller and thinner. For all my wisdom -or lack there of- at age two, I can only discern that he is not a stranger. He stands on the threshold, a single step up from the sidewalk looking down on me with a devilish grin on his face. The doors are wide open now and a long dark corridor extends behind him into the house. He insists that I drop to my knees. I fail to question his motive. An inexplicable attraction keeps me from walking away. I want him to like me as much as I like him.
I am shy by nature and obedient by nurture. I quickly apprehend that meekness is my weakness. Whatever his arguing points might have been, it wasn’t long before I was down on my knees awaiting. In anticipation of exactly what? Only he knew, for I fail to recall anything that he said. The possibility exists that perchance he intimidated me, as I have been told many did, I can’t really say. The audio memory is irretrievable. Or perchance the fact is that at two years old my mind failed to imprint the audio, due to my limited vocabulary, along with the traumatizing visual. Another mystery of the mind and how it stores selectively.
He made no efforts to mask his intentions, at least I do not remember feeling lied to, coerced or tricked in any way. He didn’t ruse me into expecting anything different from that which was about to transpire. Still, in my young heart I longed for acceptance and would do all it took to gain that acceptance. I can still see him, in my mind’s eye, as obscurely as I did that afternoon….
I am transfixed by the sight of him fumbling his penis over the waist band of his shorts and aiming an arch of urine in my direction. Before I could rationalize exactly what I had gotten myself into, a warm stream of urine was splashing on my cheeks, and tightly pressed lips. With my eyes now scrunched shut I saw the town square fountain in my young mind; an angelic statue of a nude nymph urinating into the basin of a fountain. Except the only things naked here were my humiliation and fear that I would be punished for allowing this to happen. Laughter, a sinister, mechanical laughter resounds in my head as the memory fades.
For all I try…nothing comes to focus. Search as I may, every corner of my mind, but not one clue will surface in the files of my toddler memories. I imagine myself compliantly on my knees wiping my face dry, fighting back the tears. I cry: injustice! foul play! Why am I still on my knees? Where did he go? But this is now a product of my imagination and not a memory at all. This is me forging sepia-tone snapshots of my own with faded and worn edges. This is me trying to reason with the incomplete memory.
So many questions boiling in the cauldron of my mind only to resurface unanswered. At two years aged, I loathed being a child! I despised the vulnerability, the helplessness and inability to communicate my wishes and desires, let alone my basic needs. I abhorred it all! I knew that I was different, unlike other boys, still I felt a keen attraction to them. The young mind is a sponge, but where does all that input go at such a tender age? Perhaps it’s all for the better, or we would all end up with straight jackets; a lifetime of memories overwhelming us into insanity. Maybe the mind does know what it’s doing after all in it’s selective release of memories, as well as it’s erasure or choice to vault up memories long forgotten. Waste is a terrible thing to mind and the mind a terrible thing to waste.