Thursday, October 19, 2017

First Prompt...My Earliest Memory


It’s been a long time since I’ve written any of my thoughts down, especially here.  I spent a good 4 or 5 years writing on my “Black is the New Pink” blog page, but I’ve failed to contribute to that blog for over a year now.  It’s not for the lack of desire, but due to the lack of time and opportunity.

No…that’s not true.  I have time now like I’ve not had for many years.  You see, I’m unemployed now which has opened up a lot of time to spend on writing.  Or maybe not.  If I seem rather unfocused it’s because being laid off of a job messes with your brain.  It drains you of enthusiasm.  It causes you to wonder why you’re in such a burdened position.  It causes you to stress out.  A lot.  And when you’re stressed, especially about needing to find a job, you feel guilty when you’re not taking action to find that job.  But in today’s day and age, you check the online job boards and you email friend s or colleagues and you input the same information over and over and over again at each application for a job you “might” be able to do.  And after to press the “Send” button, you sit there.  You wonder if your application is truly being seen.  You sit there.  You worry.  And you realize sitting there does nothing…but there’s no more you can do.  So you have to do something physical to get your mind off of the worry.  You mop the floor.  You paint your children’s bedrooms.  You power wash your drive way.  You work on your landscaping.  And at the end of the day, you still don’t have a job and you worry.  And at the beginning of the day…you repeat and rinse.  So is there truly time to write one’s thoughts…or are you afraid of your thoughts? 

I choose the latter.  I’ve been afraid to write only because it takes me away from my job searching activities which…are unfulfilling.  Writing fulfills me…but I feel guilty when I do write.  It’s taking precious time away from what I should be doing.  It’s a maddening cycle.  But I’ve come to realize that, like the physical work, I have to exercise my thoughts…my brain.  I have to escape the worry and stress zone and take my brain for a walk.  The easy way would be to binge watch Netflix, but that’s sedentary, and not exercise.  The keyboard is my treadmill.  It’s time to walk.

So after that dramatic portion of this prologue, what is it I’ll write about first?  Well, I have a good friend who made a suggestion.  She shares an interest in writing like I do, but she in fact writes.  She has a blog and her words are occasionally published in a local magazine.  I’m quite proud of her work and definitely listen to her when she makes a suggestion.  What she did was provide me a prompt…a statement or scenario or word…something.  And from that simple prompt, I’m to write whatever that prompt inspires.  As we discussed this exercise, the topic of early memories came up.  I can’t recall why now in that our conversations are typically quite random…almost like a waking texting dream.  But as the topic of early memories came up, she said, “That’s it!  Describe your earliest memory!”  So…with that being said, here’s my first entry of my “Prompt Phase” of writing….

My First Memory

I began to write an entire thesis on memory loss and how one can recall an event many years in the past, but can’t remember what they wore to work a couple of days prior.  But that didn’t really address the prompt of “what was your first memory?”  So I’m starting over.

I lived most of my childhood in a town called St. Albans, WV.  I attended all 12 years of school there and my parents lived there throughout my college years.  But the first 2 ½ years of my life, my family lived in a small town called Nitro which sat across the river from St. Albans.  At such an early age, it’s difficult to imagine that I have any memories at all, but I do have two distinct images that I can remember from our time on Lee Street.

The first of the two images (and I’m not sure which one is actually first) is my view from my bed.  I envision laying on a twin bed, but the view I had was of the ceiling where the wall meets.  I know it sounds weird, but that’s about all there is to it.  I’m thinking I just awoke from a nap or else I was being put down for naptime.  Heck, it could even be that I was having my diaper changed.  Either way, I know that my mom was nearby.  She’s not in my image, but I sense her presence there.  That memory, or sense of a memory, gives me comfort.

The second recollection also involves my mother.  We were good friends with the family that lived across the street and down a house or two.  I remember that they lived in a brick ranch house while our house had light colored siding…possibly wood.  My mom used to play bridge with Mrs. Walker…her first name was Alpha, which seems like an odd name today.  I believe Alpha was also in a bowling league that my mom also participated in.  But that’s beside the point.  They also had a son which I can’t recall whether or not he was younger or older.  His name was Paul; Paul, Jr. to be exact because his father’s name was also Paul. 

Anyhow, on this day, mom and I were leaving our house to walk across the street for her to play bridge.  I must have been rather small because I had a set of large plastic keys like you see for infants and toddlers who are teething.  They were primary colored and I held them in my hand.  As we were walking out the front door, I turned around to lock the door with my play keys.  I remember my mom telling me that I did a good job as we stepped down the stairs.

It’s an odd memory and I found that I remembered more detail as I wrote it just now.  This leads to one other digression.  After my mom died, my dad wrote a book about his earliest memories of growing up in Nitro during the depression and World War II.  The title of his book is “Growing Up in Nitro.”  I can see now that he wrote the book not only to document the times of his childhood and the story of growing up and falling in love with my mom, but to help provide the detail that passing memories generally don’t provide.

What pleases me most about the two “earliest memories” is that they involved my mom.  That’s pretty special. 

1 comment:

Catherine Ballinger said...

It's nice to see you writing. Kudos to you and your friend.