Bloganuary 3: Earliest Memories

Today’s Bloganuary prompt asks, “What are the earliest memories you have?” I’m blessed. Most of my early memories are very happy ones. That’s thanks to the adults in my life. No children had been born in our family in a long time. A new arrival, especially a little girl, was a novelty. My mother and great-grandparents doted on me. Although we lived in a trailer home, my great-grandmother loved buying new furniture and it was a cozy, well-decorated place. 

I remember a shelf in the corner, which housed my mother’s prom photo and senior year portrait from high school, her college textbooks, some history books and heavy leather Bibles, one red and one black. The red one was a book of childrens’ Bible stories, which felt heavy on my knees whenever I placed the book on my lap and read its stories. At first, I could only look at the colorful pictures that depicted pivotal events of the Old and New Testaments, but gradually, under my mother’s instruction, I could read for myself all about Moses and the burning bush, Jonah and the whale, etc. I contemplated these stories while I studied the dust motes that danced in shafts of sunlight, or the rainbows that lay on the mauve carpet amidst squares of light. God and sunshine were very much connected, to me, and I delighted in the imagery of guardian angels that were popular then. I was often reminded by the adults around me that angels were protecting me, and this was something I wholeheartedly believed and enjoyed imagining.

Back then, television sets still had wooden paneling, and such we had at my grandparents’ house. At the very top of the shelf I just described were a collection of VHS tapes bought for me, all the animated Disney fare but also Good Times Entertainment knockoffs purchased from the same discount store where my grandmother bought artificial flowers. I was an only child for the first five years of my life, and I loved to draw, play dress up, make up games with my many dolls and imaginary friends, but I also remember paying close attention to pop culture I imbibed from TV and radio. Soul Train, Showtime at the Apollo, the Arsenio Hall show, daytime talk shows and soap operas, sitcoms, reruns of older shows from 80s, 70s, and 60s, movies my mother watched on her own VHS collection like Boyz in the Hood, Malcolm X, New Jack City, and The Crow: I paid scrutinizing attention to them all, as a primer about the adult world, and how to tell stories.  Even before I could truly read, I loved to write. I would write meaningless swirls on lined paper, mimicking adult cursive, and think about the stories I wished to tell.

The pastoral scenery of our rural home soothed and inspired me, too. I’m glad that I grew up surrounded by verdant nature. Springs especially, heralded by the stinging sweet smell of blossoms and pollen, tempered by the petrichor left by rain showers, the memories of dogwoods blooming against pines along long country roads and railroad tracks, will always live in my heart. 

Recounting these memories now, makes my heart warm with affection for the little girl that I was, feeding my imagination with soap operas, Biblical miracles, daydreams of angels, R&B love songs, the warbling of birds perched in the trees around our home and mooing of cows from the farms up the road, surrounded by toys and love. They were very happy days!

Lately, I feel that after much prayer and healing, the contentment, imagination, and inspiration I knew then, as a happy child, are still very much apart of me.  I’m blessed, and hopeful about what is in store, what I will create and discover!

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