I’m starting with anger because it’s my first memory. Well, part of my first memory. The furthest back I can remember is when I was a baby, I’m guessing around five or six months. I wasn’t old enough to sit up, and I couldn’t roll over yet. I lay in a crib, with a mobile over me, and that awful popcorn ceiling that encapsulated the 70’s. Since I couldn’t talk, I only felt. I felt something on my feet, and it wouldn’t go away. I balled my fists, looked down the expanse of my baby self and seethed. My feet were trapped, encumbered, and I couldn’t stand it.
Many years later, my mom told me how she used to put me in one-piece pajamas with the plastic feet built in. As she told me how cute she thought I looked in them, I had an epiphany: I hated those things! The built-in slippers trapped my feet
See these? Don’t fence ’em in.
and I couldn’t stand them. If I had been able to speak at the time, I would have said ‘Mom, these pajamas are killing me. Enough already.’ My mom also said that I cried a lot as a baby. More than other babies. Might some of my wailing been contained if I could articulate the resentment within?
In this first memory of mine, I don’t recall winding myself up for a crying jag. But I remember the burn in my chest, the one I still get when I’m angry. It’s the same fist-curl and setting of my jaw. It’s only now that I can categorize the viscera incited by my imprisoned feet.
I often wonder if our earliest years are blocked out because of trauma. Our brains take in truckloads of information and don’t know what to do with it. We are subjected to the emotions that will accompany us throughout life, but our only weapons against them are screams or a spit-bubbled ‘goo’. The bulk of our memories seem to occur after we have learned to talk, when the floods of frustration break the dam and we can share our thoughts with the tall people.
I have happier memories from my toddling years, of course. But it’s neat to go back to that first moment I separated from the cosmos and realized I was ‘me’. It also exlplains my love affair with sandals.
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