Early Memories

My bedroom, between my parent's room and the bathroom. Their blue shag carpet and dark brown fake wood plastic bedroom furniture. The bassinet in their room. The baby. There was always a baby.

The toy box made out of thin wood, perhaps plywood or strong cardboard, with a patterned underside. The bookshelf full of colorful books and a clown. The raggedy ann and andy dolls with thick woven fabric skin and eyes that had fallen off so my mom sewed little pieces of patterned fabric on instead.

My bunk bed. Jumping off the top bunk. Falling off the top bunk. My little brother falling off the top bunk and landing on a beach ball and bouncing. Laughing.

Being picked up and carried. What it felt like to shift up and down with the gait of my mother or father. The acceleration when being picked up. Being put in the stroller. My dad having a mustache and it tickled when he kissed me.

Spinning and getting dizzy. Falling down but it wasn't that far so it didn't hurt.

Learning to ride my bicycle without training wheels. The parking lot was full of gravel and dusty. My grandpa held the seat so I wouldn't fall over. He always brought milk. Sometimes he brought cookies in a round blue metal tin. I liked the ones with the red candy in the center.

The plastic covers on the living room furniture. How your skin stuck to that plastic when you sat on it too long and got sweaty. How we weren't really supposed to be in that room anyway, because that is where the stereo and the breakables were on the shelf.  Being stung by a bee as I looked out the window behind the sofa in the thick red velvet drapery. Crying.

The 8-track player in the stereo that went clunk-clunk when you pressed the track change button. Pressing the track change button over and over and over, just for the mechanical satisfaction of that clunk-clunk. Clunk-clunk. Clunk-clunk. Getting yelled at to stop doing that. The 8 track tape of Julio Iglesias playing over and over.

The big, old-fashioned baby stroller for my brother. It was navy blue on the outside and white satin on the inside. It had big wired spoked wheels with white tires and big springs that creaked.

Using cushions from the sofa to build a fort. Taking linens from the closet to drape over the fort and give it a roof. Reading a book inside of the fort with my dad's yellow flashlight. My dad was a meter reader and he always had books where he wrote the numbers, until he got a big portable computer with membrane buttons that I wasn't allowed to push.

The pictures and the albums. Looking at pictures of myself as a baby. The portrait studio at Sears on the third floor near the bathrooms. Hide and seek in the clothes racks. The Packards store across the parking lot of Sears where you bought food and stuff with stamps in the basement down the big stairs. It was fun to fill the little books with little green stamps but my mommy never did that only my grandmother. Waiting for the clerk to get what you bought with the stamps.

My grandfather's camera. It was thin and metallic and flat. It had a built-in flash. My mom's camera that used flashbulbs. The bulbs were cube shaped and had four sides and when you advanced the film, the bulb rotated to the next unused side. After four flashes, the bulb was pulled off the top of the camera and discarded. Inspecting the used one and noticing how they were broken and exploded within their little plastic compartments.

Tang. Chocolate milk. Strawberry milk. Jello. Yoghurt with the fruit in the bottom. Swedish fish.

Plywood paneling on the walls of the kitchen. The round kitchen table in the corner under the clock. My mom sweeping in the corner behind the table. Playing with toys under the table.

The phone with a rotary dial in the television room. The phone wire went straight into the wall on one and end straight into the phone on the other. The phone was heavy. It was next to the big chair that reclined if you leaned on the back of it. Duct tape.

Turning off the lights and hiding when trick or treaters visited during Halloween, so that they would think nobody was home. Slowly. Moving. A. Chair. To. The. Door. To. Look. Out. The. Peephole. To. See if the trick or treaters were still there. Giggling cause it was so funny.

Singing. Learning to whistle.

The toy that had a long handle connected to a clear plastic bubble on wheels containing little balls. When you pushed it around it went pop-pop-pop and the balls bounced around inside the clear plastic bubble.

The plastic phone with a face, also on wheels. When you pulled it the eyes moved around and it made noises.

The jack in the box with its thin wire crank and metal housing. It's clown face with red cheeks and droopy outfit connected to the box. Du-dun, du-dun, du-du-du-du-dun, du-dun, du-dun, du-dun-dun it went and then pop went the weasel, or rather, the clown.

The books, although I can't remember which ones. I do remember the Encyclopedia Brittanica. The National Geographic magazines. The Jehovah's Witnesses literature, especially the heavy brown bound volumes of magazines that were released every year for archival. They were like big brown building blocks. We had so many of them that you could easily build a big structure to drive your toy cars in. In fact, when you piled up blankets and stuck volumes into them, you could turn them into bunkers in a mountain.

Wooden blocks with colorful letters on them. You could pile them up to spell different words. Sometimes my dad stepped on them. Sometimes he whipped me with his belt, but he almost always apologized later and I always forgave him.

Hot wheels and matchbox cars. The badger truck with a little radar on top that spun as its wheels turned. A red formula one racer with a wobbly wheel.

The television had an antenna on it. You had to move the antenna to get a good signal. Our television that worked sat on top of a larger television that didn't work. The television got really hot when it was on. The channel dial was a little hard to turn and it went clunk-clunk when you turned it. There was also another channel dial that went click-click-click, but almost all of the channels on that dial were snow, except for the spanish ones.

My mom sewing. My grandmother sewing. The wedding store they owned that smelled like old building, wood floors, chalk and dried flowers. The time they got a sign and it had the name of my sister Sarai on it because that was the name of the store. Sarai Bridal Fashions. The second floor of the commercial building that sat right next to the railroad tracks on Main Street in Hackensack. The turntable thing that you stood on and spun around until you were dizzy and it had a thing with chalk powder in it that got really messy so I wasn't allowed to play with it.

The wedding store didn't have its own bathroom. You had to go down the hallway to the small bathroom with a small window. It was cold there except in the summer. If you looked out the window, you could see the train passing by. I would hear the train and run to the bathroom and I would count the number of train cars on the train as they passed by. Sometimes there were a hundred train cars and that was really cool because I could count that high and not forget.