|Robert Lee Brewer (Painting by Didi Menendez)|
The world began for me--my first memory--as black lines and sunshine. For the longest time, I thought I was viewing gigantic blades of grass. It wasn't until I was much older that I could appreciate the length of my own eyelashes. Instead of viewing Whitman's leaves of grass, I realized I began as eyelashes blocking the sun.
For years and years, I misinterpreted my own first memory. As such, take these memories for the faulty and flimsy things they are. I promise I will do my best to accurately capture the various important moments of my life. When possible, I'll try to protect the identities of the folks involved--though there will be moments when that is impossible. (Sorry in advance, identities I can't protect.)
Whether by grass or eyelashes, I've always considered the black lines and sunshine memory a comforting one, though I could understand it being interpreted as scary for others. Maybe that's why I was always known as a happy kid. My mom used to tell me how I would run up to strangers in public and give them hugs. Even now, I receive feedback from people on how I always seem to be smiling. It's just part of my DNA to look on the bright side of things.
Unfortunately, this series of posts will not just be a collection of hugs and sunshine. In fact, some posts may even have a little note at the beginning to warn of graphic content. That said, I do think everything that happens--the good, the bad, and the in between--is supposed to happen. So I may have made it through some bad moments, but there aren't any black clouds hanging over me. They made me who I am.
But my life (and this series) is not just a collection of bad news. There will be good posts to balance out the bad. I'm going to attempt to go in chronological order. I'm going to attempt to be accurate. I'm going to attempt not to hit my head anymore.
This post began with my first memory, and I shared my mom's memory of me running up to hug strangers (kids, do not follow my example). I'll end this post with another shared memory. It's about when I got a scar over my right eye. It's harder to see now than when I was a child, when it was very obvious.
The story goes like this: My father was driving with my brother David and I in our unsecured car seats, and he got into a wreck. My unsecured seat flew face first into the dashboard. Apparently, face covered in blood, I kept just touching the blood and looking at my fingers without crying. Meanwhile, David dangled upside down bawling away.
As a child hearing this story, I always used it as proof that I was somehow tougher than other people. It's a perfect example of what doesn't kill you makes you psychologically stronger. Of course, I'm now smart enough to know the only reason I wasn't crying is that I probably suffered a concussion. David reacted appropriately.
Anyway, there's the truth of what happened, and there's the truth according to us. History--even a personal history--is a complicated journey. I hope you enjoy the ride.
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Learn more about me and my peeps in these posts:
- My Father is Running for President.
- How to Pack for a Hurricane Chase.
- Confession of a Man With a Moustache.
glad the accident wasn't worse. and btw, i like the painting - compliments to the artist.
Thanks for sharing this memory. Wow...so glad your injuries weren't worse. And what a great idea for a blog post series. I look forward to reading these as well as participating. :-)
Bobby (not Bob, right?),
Pretty great essay. Your first memory is a stunner, as are your revisions to your memory. Revisionist memory.
I've only been an occasional visitor here, but now I've added your blog to my Google Reader account so I won't miss these stories.
Have a great time in 2012.
When I look back over my youth, Ina, I'm seriously perplexed over how I'm not brain damaged. And yes, Didi did a great job. She also painted a wonderful portrait of Tammy, which we have hanging up in the entry of our apartment.
Debbie, I'm looking forward to your post! The first post in that series will run on Wednesday (from Jane Friedman). Thanks for the kind words about this Blissfully series.
Geof, thank you so much for the note. Yes, I'm looking forward to these essays, because they are already forcing me to think about what I've done--and then why I may have done it. The revisionist memory is a prime example. So much of my identity may have been formed by false interpretations (and brain trauma). I hope you enjoy future posts as well.
I can relate toyour past a little bit.My story as well... Here's why:
I dash to the street and stop to lean over and pick up my sandal; there are tires screeching behind me and I straighten up and there’s a bright, blinding light and the green canopy of trees and blue skies explode behind my eyes and everything wavers and swims and shimmers, and there’s a horrific crunching in my head and a warm wetness running along my neck and there are screams and someone’s crying and I tell them I can walk to the car, and I can do everything if they just let go of me. I’m strong! I’m tough! I can do it all by myself. And I want to ride in a car for the first time, but I’m pinned to the ground, unable to move.
The tree leaves are so green and tiny with delicate spidery veins running through, and the sky is spotless and fluffy with infinite color and I feel warm and soft.
Then it starts getting darker and darker and I’m perched on a white table and there are nurses with funny, stiffly starched hats and white coats and they yank at me and push me and bandage my head and then try to get my tank-top off and they pull and pull insistently and it hurts and… and it burns and there are bodies, little, tinny figures dancing in white silky gowns and they fly across the hallways and there are no walls and I fly through too, and someone cuts my tank-top with scissors and I’m free of pain and I float, up to the ceiling and drop and float and drop and I bounce and it gets faster and faster, up and down, down and up and I’m getting dizzy-weak and tired and it’s no fun anymore and I feel many hands on me and the tiny figures get bigger and they have kind faces and they talk to me without moving their lips and I’m scared, because I want them to move their lips and they smile and they hold me lightly and I see Mom smiling and Dad frowning and there are tears in his black eyes and I see my sister holding up her baby and I see my beautiful black cat and I see a strange land across a huge body of water and I want to go there and stay here, suspended, where there’s no pain, no sadness, no fear and then I get pushed, shoved and…
I hover and I look down and there I am, with a white turban on my head and nurses dressed in white but they’re no angels leaning over my thin body, just fat, loud and obnoxious nurses.
My Mom comes in and she cries and Dad’s tough and firm and he gives orders and I want for Mom to hold me safe and for Dad to stop being such a grouch and I bounce again, up and down, up and down and I come down hard and it all goes black; I think someone turned off the lights.
No more play for me; it doesn’t matter, I’m tired and I want to go home.
I am home…suspended above all. I’m as content to be here as field mice in a harvest bin…
I like this post a lot and I'm looking forward to the rest. :-)
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