Bowls and Memories

The world was big and ready to be explored when I was four. It was also a scary place where I could fall. But the fear didn’t stop me.

There was a hole in the kitchen floor. In my two-year-old mind, it was huge. My family lived in a travel trailer. There were a hundred acres of land with pecan trees and livestock, horses, chickens, all with a nearby river and wooded area, wild enough for any child’s fantasy. The hole—I avoided it, walked around it, afraid of falling.

When I was three or four, I remember picking pecans. My first experience with money and the thrill of commerce. Power.

I remember sitting carefully on the toilet. Mom bought an adapter seat so that I wouldn’t be afraid.

Falling in holes, dropping in toilets, we can’t forget that I dove out the door. I was young. Early that morning, dad had been plowing the cornfield, and he had a bowl that he wanted me to come and get. I was happy to run to help — a good little worker. I stood on the edge of the open door, and I knew I should sit down and scoot. The steps were tall. Four-year-old little legs can’t leap the way her big brothers do, but I never realized this. So I jumped.

I jumped and missed the steps. What happened afterward is a blur. I screamed. I’d fallen awkwardly on my arm, pinning it under my body against the concrete steps. People say there’s no pain when you break a bone. Or it hurts worse if you’re an adult. I don’t know what type of weed they’re smoking because pain hurts everyone.

For fifty years, I’ve tried to convince Mom that I jumped, that Dad did not force me to run outside for the bowl, but she’s stayed stuck in the blaming. Dad will always be The Evil One. And I’m not sure where that puts me.

I had difficulties at a young age. As a kid, my life was out of my hands. Written in these paragraphs are memories, vivid. They are the squares of fabric I’ve sewn into my life. Why did I save these and shelve the others? Memories are packets, and you change them each time you examine them. And every person who sees an event will see it differently.

How do you see yourself?