Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #10: Earliest Memory

We had a treehouse in front of our Navy-base row house when I was three and four. I had the croup when my father built it so I couldn’t go out and play but only watch my brother enviously through the window. My father had a beard then and it tickled. He took us fishing off Monterey Pier and I caught only baby octopi, time and again. I remember the way the ink bled out, like watercolors into a wash, when we’d toss them back.

I remember telling my first lie. I went to a Montessori preschool in Carmel and my teacher was lovely with straight yellow hippie hair down to her waist. I was banging ruthlessly on the piano keys one day and she complimented me, and I looked her straight in the eyes and thanked her, and said I was taking lessons. Not much of a lie, but I must have been pretty shocked with myself if I still remember telling it.

I remember being turned loose to play in a carpet warehouse. How the stacks and stacks of rolled carpets were like mountains and we were set free to scale them and leap between them. It was glorious.

Being small. When I sat down to write, this is what I was going to write about, then all the other memories came tumbling out too. It must have been the open house for my older brother’s kindergarten. There were corridors of a school with drawings on all the walls and grownups everywhere, standing around. I love this memory for my only physical recollection of what it was like to be that small. They were just legs, for all intents and purposes: grownups. And I was racing through this forest of legs with the other kids, and when I came to what I thought were my dad’s legs I flung myself into them, hard, flung my arms around them. Then I titled my head back and looked up, and I still remember gasping, the horror of it. It wasn’t my dad, but just another grownup in brown pants! Mortified, I ran on.

It’s funny how so many of these early memories have to do with my father. I think he was home all the time then since he was in graduate school, whereas in my few years up til then he’d been at sea a lot and it was just my mom and brother and me in our little house at the edge of the cane fields in Hawaii -- but I don’t have real memories of that time. After Monterey I remember a lot more, from first grade through fourth in Virginia, and Papa was gone a lot, plying the Atlantic in a Destroyer, I suppose. Of course Mom is always there, in all my memories. During these years she caught the houseplant mania that was sweeping the 1970s and our house began to turn into a jungle. Each time we moved for the rest of my youth she’d have to give her jungle away and rebuild it from scratch in the next house. And she was pregnant with my little sister, and my brother and I weren’t permitted in the hospital so my dad had to take us to the parking lot and point at her window. Funny, I get a little choked up thinking of that. Of needing that reassurance, to see that window among windows, and know she was there.

Want to read some more Sunday Scribblings?

35 comments:

Colorsonmymind said...

That must be one of the cutest pictures I have ever seen. It goes so perfectly with the story of your father's beard.

I loved reading these memeories of yours.

I too went to Montesory school and some of my earliest memories are from there.

chest of drawers said...

I´m glad you have such a good memory, your childhood sounds wonderful. I pictured you all, sitting in the car and wanting to be with your Mum. When my little brother was born my Dad begged the nurses to let me in but they wouldn´t bend the rules so I had to sit in the lobby and wait for him to come back.

Earth Monkey said...

hi laini ~ cute cute CUTE photo! Memories are so funny the way they come in like the tide just keep coming up and up and up. and yours have surely prompted some early memories of my own. Your life sounds so interesting. living in all different sorts of places so young. I also remember visiting my mom in the hospital once but could not go in the room. how crazy was that! okay i am off to the scribblings corner! happy saturday!

megg said...

hi there! MY Dad had a big beard that tickled too. I cried the first time he shaved it off - and I think I was 14! Heh heh heh. Thank you for that memory.

Your memories are beautiful. It's funny - despite the strong, supportive childhood, sometimes we still need a window to look at for reassurance.

I love getting these glimpses into your childhood - can't wait to get more. xoxo

AnnieElf said...

My oh my how childbirth has changed. Now birthing rooms have to potential to become party central. I think the little girl in the parking lot was very lucky to experience some of the mystery of birth by being separated from it.

paris parfait said...

What a childhood you had, Laini! These stories/memories are so interesting. I think it's great that you got to experience so many different places, although I know it didn't always seem so wonderful at the time - all that moving. I did all my moving as an adult; only moved once as a child. So I'm fascinated by your stories.

susanlavonne said...

Your stories certainly explain the adorable smile in the photograph! I remember my mom was in a hosptial with back surgery when I was young and my dad did the exact same thing...showed us the window of the room she was in...funny how we find comfort in knowing where our loved ones are, even if we cannot see them.

Amber said...

That picture of you is so adorable! And again I think, it is no wonder you became an artist! The new experiences, the Montessori school, the imagination. So sweet.

:)

boliyou said...

Adorable picture! What fun memories you have.

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

You were takin gpiano lessons...I love that lie...or the truth of the inner teacher teaching you how to play!

art and soul said...

i love your memories and see them so good in my mind's eye just from reading your words. i love the places you grew up, they sound so nice.

Tammy said...

You were a beautiful child! Your memories were sweet. I know Hawaii and Carmel well. Thank you for sharing, you have left us wanting more :)

Becca said...

Loved the image of looking for your mother's window when she was in the hospital -I got a little choked up too. Reminds me once again of how much our mothers mean to us - always.

samantha said...

Man, I want to kiss those laughing cheeks! I love this picture, and your memories. The lie about piano lessons makes me laugh - what a funny kid you were!

Marilyn said...

Great memories, Laini! I think I did that flinging myself at the wrong legs, too...because a memory came flooding back reading about you doing that. :)

tinker said...

Yes, I remember doing that wrong leg thing with what I thought was my Nanny (grandma) during a frenzied dept. store sale, only to find another older lady in a navy blue dress - pretty startling :>)

Patry Francis said...

I like the way your memories tumble together, giving us not just one image, but a kaleidescope view of your childhood.

Bohemian Girl said...

wonderful peek into your cuteness.

i just want to kiss your beautiful face and cheeks...geez!!!

sweet, sweet memories.

funny...instead of grabbing onto a strange grown ups leg, i grabbed a man's hand that i thought was my father's. i was just as mortified.

xoxoxo,
boho

Jim Di Bartolo said...

So cute baby :)

I love this picture and this post. Smooches!

Husband Jim

papyrus said...

Neat having all these memories too look back on. Thanks for sharing them.

Alexandra S said...

One of the things I love about reading your blog is it reminds me that no matter how long you may know someone, there is always so, so much more to learn and discover when we keep sharing our stories. I'm so glad your father is close now to create many new old memories.

Jennifer said...

so cute and so sweet, loving these memories

Ali la Loca said...

Loved the description.

I, instead of grabbing a stranger's legs or hand, managed to get into the wrong CAR one day leaving elementary school. It was an old white volvo, just like my mom's, and I only realized that it wasn't my mom in the driver's seat once I was already sitting inside the car!!

Thankfully I went to a Montessori school (just like you!) and it was full of understanding parents. I imagine some horror story developing nowadays with a pervert driving off with some kid that accidentally got into his/her car...

Left-handed Trees... said...

Wonderful post--that you were choked up as you wrote about your mother was so moving..."Of needing that reassurance, to see that window among windows and know she was there..." My heart ached...beautiful.

Deb R said...

Well dang, everyone is saying how cute the photo is, and no photo is showing up for me. Stoopid Blogger! I hate when it gets snarky.

I'll try back again later because I want to see the pic. Loved reading about your memories!

Jess said...

These are great memories--and a super-cute picture! I remember being anxious about my mom when she was in the hospital giving birth to my little sister, too, although we were allowed to visit her the next day. I also recall visiting my elementary school as a teen and being shocked by how tiny everything seemed; I guess it still loomed large in my memory.

Kim G. said...

I loved the part about the legs. That happened to me once, grabbing the wrong set of "daddy" legs. It's funny, I can remember how disconcerting that felt - no one could take his place and I almost felt unfaithful in a way.

And the picture - sugar, pure sweetness . .

liz elayne said...

you are the cutest my friend. i adore this picture. and the stories.
all of your travels have shaped you in an amazing way...your imagination and open heart. beautiful.

deirdre said...

Laini, you were such a cute little girl. Such a happy face! I remember throwing myself around legs that looked like my dads too and looking up to find it was a stranger. AAAAAhh!! I was horrified. Probably about seven and thought I should be old enough to know better.

Kristine said...

SUCH a cte picture! Greet memories too!

susanna said...

Yes, that photo of you is super-super cute! Wouldn't it be great to feel that happy every day?! Your memory of banging the piano keys and then graciously lying to and thanking the woman who complimented your playing had me grinning. Cheeky!

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