Tag Archives: memories

My Earliest Memory

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.

Grainy Photograph

Funny how the mind works. What it can easily recall with the trip of a switch. Just one small icon or scent can trigger the recollection of an entire event long forgotten or even easily denied if queried on the issue. What it can repress and retain unmissed so that we can go about our daily lives seemingly sane. We live our daily lives never really needing to remember every single instance of our lives. But the root of many of our personal traits can quickly be uncovered by a simple trip of a switch: a single image, a grainy photograph.

A dormant memory, crisply revived, while paging through a family photo album. A grainy photograph of myself before a mound of sand on the beach. I hold the photo in my hand and close my eyes. I can hear the ocean, waves crashing on the shore, the scent of salt in the air. Seagulls gliding overhead, patiently seeking their next meal. Our family haphazardly picks out a clear spot on the beach.

Besides my parents, two brothers and two sisters, a cousin joins us on this afternoon on the shores of the Pacific Coast. This is my first impression of the ocean. The sea is vast, simply grand and immensely intimidating, yet somehow serene. The sound of the waves crashing down upon the shore is mysteriously, simultaneously and equally frightening, as it is comforting to me.

My mother is camera happy with her new Kodak110. She is constantly taking pictures of my father, despite his protests. “Why don’t you all sit down and build a sandcastle?” She suggests, probably less in an attempt at encouraging sibling alliance and more so with hopes to increase her photo opportunities. My brothers and sisters all rush about in daft titillation, as if some great reward were to be given, in compliance with her request.

My father is only too relieved that mom has found other victims to torture with her photographic fascination. Seconds later, I find myself sitting alone before a poor excuse for a sandcastle that is nothing more than a seven inch high pile of sand.

Suddenly the roaring ocean sounds like a melancholic song being sung just for me. And the salty air is seasoned just so to coat my wounds. Looking over to my left, I spy my mother photographing the other children, with a grin on her face, in delight that her photo opportunity was not ruined by defiant children. They are assembled, sitting in half circle, around an enormous pile of sand. I continue to build my empire of dirt in silence. The others are roaring and cheering in self-approval and congratulations. I can tell they are easily amused: a quick flash of bright light in their eyes and they are charged up for hours! My mother notices my distance, silence and solitude.

Squatting down in front of me and tilting her head she asks the simple and platitudinous question, “What’s wrong?” she manages to say with the same sincere tone as always. “Nothing“ I reply, burying my chin into my chest and therefore belying my demeanor. She persists in a caring voice, “Why didn’t you join the others?”

Taking a deep breath of cool, salty air, I close my eyes to hide the pain. Feigning assurance, I scoop up a handful of cold, wet sand and pile it atop my petty palace. But still, I give her no answer. Breaking the silence, she instructs, “Look up and smile!” No sooner did I look up, from my pathetic castle, when the flash was in my eyes. Well, I cant feel a smile on my face and I certainly don’t hear laughter emitting from within. I fail to find the amusement in which my siblings frolic. “They didn’t invite me to join them” I managed to mumble, staring over at the children in crescent laughter.

A dormant memory, crisply revived, while paging through a family photo album. A grainy photograph of myself before a mound of sand on the beach. Funny how the mind works. I’m certain that if this moment in time was recalled by any of my siblings or if I queried my mother, an entirely different tale would be told…if any memory surfaced at all.

Why do we harbor selective moments in our mind? Why does the mind safe keep these type of memories deep within it’s dark corners only to be brought to the fore with the trip of a switch. Perchance it is just doing it’s best to keep us seemingly sane…perchance.