My earliest memory is of crawling. Just me on my hands and knees, on what could only have been linoleum (get up close and personal with linoleum, you’ll know what I mean). It’s kind of like in the movies with that tunnel vision lens-thing going on. I can see the world from the height of a crawling infant; the same view, I suppose, is shared by cats and small dogs. But I digress.
While I know now there had to be a world more than a foot above my head, in my memory, I have no concept of this. There is just the world I see, the coldness of the floor, the voices, and my intent.
The voices must have been those of my parents, although too young to understand words, oddly, I can remember that I could assign meaning to the sounds. Yeah, I know that sounds pretty new-age-y, woo-woo. But in one’s memory, assessments like that are immaterial. After all, in your mind, you are there.
I am a baby. Again, I can’t talk yet, let alone understand what is being said. But I know my mom’s voice, of course, and the other voice is new and different. It is a man’s voice, and although I won’t get the whole male/female, Mars/Venus business at least until I can, you know, feed myself, tie my shoes and maybe even whistle, I know there is something very different here. I don’t understand people’s energy yet (obviously), but somehow, I know in my baby heart that the energy has changed in our house.
This new voice — it has legs. They are all I can see from my vantage point, but I know the legs belong to the new voice. So, I crawl beneath the voice, between ankles and feet, until I come out the other side. And even at that young age, I meant to be cute and was delighted when I heard laughter…which told me it had worked. They laughed; I kept crawling and, I guess I thought this would all be good — this thing with the new voice — laughing along with my mom, and all.
I asked my mother, years later, about this recollection I’d had over and over; it was so real I didn’t believe it was a dream.
She remembered it, too; I had been a year old, and I was, indeed, crawling beneath my father’s stance. We had been in the kitchen of our tiny home. It was the home my mom, my three older siblings and I had lived in for the past months. I still don’t know how she kept a roof over our heads, although I’m sure our grandma and aunts helped make sure we ate. But at the end of the day, it had all been on Mama. And that was because from the time I was a week old, my dad, the guy with the legs, was in prison.
Mom told me that she was sure my earliest memory was of the day he came home.