Home > Slice of Life > Fragments of Memories (Part 1)

Fragments of Memories (Part 1)

If asked whether I believed in nature or nurture, I’d be inclined to say both. Nature determines how far you can go and how fast. Just as importantly, however, nurture determines in which direction.

I say this because we are the sum of our parts. We are the sum of our choices and experiences. Not all of these fragments that make up our being is the result of our own decisions. I did not decide to be a preterm birth or an insomniac, and I do not believe in karma (I do believe in caustic determinism, implying cause and effect, but this is a very different monster from karma) as to suggest that I’ve done something in my past life to deserve a frail constitution since birth (and it pisses me off that my mother does). Ultimately, however, they make up who I am. No account of what happens in anyone’s life can ever be complete without the chronicling of the earliest influences that ultimately decided the foundations of who we were.

*****

I can no longer remember in which order my three earliest memories occurred. In fact, I cannot even say with real confidence that they were my three earliest memories; these things fade with time on a highly impressionable mind. But, with no verification system in place, these are as close to the three earliest memories I can remember.

*****

I was probably three or four when my mother took me on a walk to Ocean Beach. We owned a Nissan Stanza U12 series, so the drive to the Pacific Ocean took ten minutes at most even in congested traffic. For as long as I could remember, Ocean Beach was a fairly frequent stop during my stay in San Francisco; every now and then, we’d come here for a jog or a bike ride, or to fly kites. Even more frequently, we bought custard-filled bread (and maybe some bagels or donuts) for breakfast from a bakery on Irving Avenue, then drove to Ocean Beach to eat breakfast in the car in front of the ocean.

This was one time where we were there for a bike ride. Somewhere along the lines, my mother managed to lose me despite the fact that I was on the western sidewalk of the Great Highway, which was about as wide as you’d expect a sidewalk to be. From the southern point of Sloat Boulevard to its northern end of Cliff House, Ocean Beach stretched on for four kilometers and a half. I was probably three or four years old at the time; that was probably about half the world on foot. I reacted as well as you’d expect a three- or four-year-old would.

I would later learn that my search for our car was fruitless because my mother had driven the car away, assuming I had already gotten in. To date, my sense of abandonment does not quite understand how my mother could’ve not noticed that her child and a bike with training wheels was not in the back seat before she drove away from the parking lot.

*****

My second earliest memory involved a playground somewhere near a hospital.

My family was very organized and hygiene-conscious. They disapproved, for example, of children tumbling around in a sandbox. So when I did tumble in a sandbox (which was not a deliberate act, as they had pushed values of hygiene on me, but an accident in which I tripped and fell over into the sandbox and that was the moment my parents turned their heads and saw me and jumped to a conclusion), they decided to play a practical joke on me in hopes of scaring me out of ever tumbling in sandboxes again.

Calling me over, my parents made a big show of fluffing through my hair, examining my scalp, telling me that the bugs in the sand had crawled onto my scalp and dug holes into my head that were now nests, the equivalent of an ant hive. They pretended to try to pluck the bugs out, but claimed that the bugs ducked right back into the holes the moment their fingers got close. I reacted as well as a three- or four-year-old would.

And that was how I gained my utter fear of bugs.

*****

My third earliest memory was a dream. The precondition to understanding this dream is that, as a child, I really, really liked drinking milk. (I still do, although not as much.)

If Freud was right about dreams being a reflection of both the conscious and the subconscious, then the nightmare (which traumatized me more than I should rightfully admit presently at my age) of my mother and her friends taunting me and playing a game of keep-away with a gallon of milk while blowing raspberries at me and going “neh-neh-neh-neh-neeeeh-neeeeh~” in a “you can’t catch me~” sing-song voice probably represented a subconscious reflection of how much faith I had in my parents of looking out for my psychological well-being.

*****

And people wonder why I’m not considered a filial child.

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