The shadows cast by the great trees are long. The trees seem to lean over me as the branches reach down waving their long fingers in the air. It's not menacing, not exactly. At least, I'm not afraid. But the gloom is oppressing, making the house foreboding. The house is big and white, all columns and windows, and I seem to be drifting toward it. Floating. The movement is not of my own volition.
And that's where it ends. Or that's all there is.
When I was a kid, I thought this was some kind of recurring dream that never went anywhere and wondered why I would dream it. I mean, why would I have this brief vision of this yard and house?
When I was much older, probably in my early 20s, my mom and I were going somewhere and travelling through north Shreveport -- actually, an area north of Shreveport -- and she suddenly told me to turn off onto some street and led me through several neighborhoods to some house. She pointed at it and said, "That's where we first lived when we moved to Shreveport." I knew, vaguely, that we had lived in some other house when we first moved from Texas, but we had moved into the house I grew up in well before I was one, before I was nine months old, in fact, because I learned to walk when I was nine months old. Before I could crawl. I learned to walk in the house I grew up in.
The house she pointed at -- a large, white, probably-old-plantation house -- was the house from my "dream." I recognized it instantly. The front lawn was extensive, the house far back from the road, and full of what were probably cypress trees. I don't know. I'm not really a tree guy. It would make sense for the area, though. All I know is that there were long, overhanging branches, probably full of Spanish moss, though I don't actually remember.
It was a surreal experience.
Not just because you're not supposed to remember things from when you're that young.
Also because I have no other associated memories from that place. Just "floating" through the yard toward the house, because I'm sure I was being carried.
It's not the only thought I have that goes back to before we're supposed to have cohesive memories, but the rest are mostly traumatic.
I remember the swollen spot on the floor in front of the refrigerator at the house I grew up in, because I remember standing on it crying as my mom left for work one day. But my grandparents had that fixed very early on, which means I was no more than two.
I remember my cousin pushing me off of my red tractor in the backyard and hitting my head on the steps going up to the back porch and the huge goose egg on my forehead.
I remember getting stung by a wasp on my finger and my arm swelling up and my aunt putting something on the sting that burned as much as the sting did.
I remember my puppy, the one I got when I turned two.
I remember him licking my face excitedly and laughing and laughing and trying to push him away but not wanting him to stop at the same time.
And I remember him lying dead in front of his dog house when I was not more than 2 1/2 and my mom not letting me go see him but not telling my why she wouldn't let me go see him. I cried. A lot.
I also remember sitting in my grandfather's lap as he read to me. He was a mechanic and always smelled of sweat and oil and, on the rare occasion I run into that precise smell out in the world, it brings up memories of sitting in his lap while he read to me. Little Black, a Pony and some book about an old blue truck that loved a cow and wouldn't let its owner sell her. Evidently, he would read those books over and over and over again to me because no one else would. My mom freely admitted later in life that she didn't have the patience to read to me, especially not the same book multiple times in a row. But my grandfather did.
I also remember my grandmother taking me to daycare with her. She worked at some daycare place, and I would go there with her. Mostly, I remember the bus trips home and how she would let me stand up in the seat and pull the cord for the bus to stop and that she would sometimes take me to some buffet place on the way home where she would let me get a piece of custard. The memory of that custard has become my platonic ideal of what custard should be even though I'm sure it probably wasn't really all that good.
And one from when I was three.
I remember the Watergate hearings being on TV and being very mad about it. Mostly because I wanted to watch something else -- in the specific memory, I wanted to be watching Star Trek -- but the hearings were the only thing on. Ah, the days of only having three stations to choose from!
Maybe, today, if more people were forced to watch StupidGate then more people would care about the even more egregious criminal we have in the the White House. Or maybe not, since it was quite clear that his criminality didn't matter to the people who voted for him as long as he fed their racism.