Boulder and Beyond

–I’m digging deep; resurrecting the past to share the farthest edges of my memories. These are what I believe are the earliest and perhaps most formative pieces of my life. These are the most precious, foundational and nostalgic memories that I cling to and often reflect on. Yet while they aren’t numerous and seemingly random, I hold them close mostly because they represent the only part of my life where I had a whole family; together and under one roof. Nothing separated by chasms of miles and pain; long before the cold grief of division. My view of my family was unified and plenary, so these memories are vehemently cherished and reverential. I’ll break these up as making these a cohesive piece won’t be possible.

The Big Wheel

I remember having a “big wheel”; a trike-like toy that had two smaller plastic rear wheels, a low set seat close to the ground and one large wheel in the front where the pedals were attached. I must have really loved it, because it is the clearest memory of Boulder; I suppose it was my favorite mode of transportation and perhaps signified an early feeling of freedom. I’d ride around our apartment complex on the sidewalks with other children racing or just pedalling about while my papa was doing some task or another for his work at the apartment building. On special occasions, I’d ride alongside my mother and we would go to a nearby store and I would get juice. I felt much love and appreciation when we’d go on this small adventure.

Life on the Inside

I’m certain our apartment was at least a two bedroom, I believe I had my own room because I remember being pretty scared of the dark and being by myself in a room at night. We did have a bird named Ollie and he was in the room with me so I suppose I wasn’t totally alone, but I don’t think I thought of him as a companion. One unfortunate night, my imaginations got the best of me and I had a terrible dream. I awoke with a forceful scream of terror so incredible, poor Ollie presumably had a heart attack and died… apparently my outburst was so sudden that my shriek tore through his little avian core. Sorry Ollie!

Needless to say, like many toddlers, I was easily frightened. A neighbor of ours had two daughters, much older than me. My mom had to remind me of their names, but we’ll call them ML; I thought of them as a unit and only remember the sisters together. I’m told ML doted on me fiercely and adored hanging out with me, though I’m not sure if they babysat me, but I do remember liking them and thinking fondly of them. I think it was Halloween or near halloween (to be fair this could be a modern association with this event), but I recall being in the main hallway of the apartments and looking up some stairs. To my horror the door atop the stairs flung open and the most frightening hell wolf shouted at me. It was one or both of the sisters in a mask (I only recall the wolf mask) but I remember being scared out of my wits and crying in terror. Maybe this is what sparked my nightmare that killed Ollie by proxy and I’m absolved, but sadly I’m not certain of the exact timeline of these events.

During the day, I’m sure I did nothing but find mischief like any small child, but do I remember that I was fascinated with ants. Occasionally, there’d be a line of black ones that would form a line and traipse inside or gather around our door and I loved to watch them do their thing and watch them go about their business. My mom says I used to also count them; I have to wonder how high I could count back then because while they weren’t exactly an infestation, they were numerous. On a particular day of watching the little critters, I recall them meandering in their usual line of march, but I think I was curious to see what would happen if they encountered an obstacle… like my foot. They, of course, were nonplussed and just crawled over me. I’m sure they tickled and I had a chuckle as they continued their journey up my leg — until they started biting. I remember they even bit my scrotum; a memory that makes me shudder to this day. I’m sure I screamed, because the next thing I remember is my parents giving me a bath.

Brothers for life

About three months before my fourth birthday, my parents welcomed my little brother to the world. I’m sure that during the gestational months, my parents told me that I’d have a sibling, but I do not recall that. I do, however, remember the day he was born. We were at the same hospital where I entered the world, and I was in the waiting room. I recall seeing my mother and brother through a viewing window and also being excited. I don’t remember much after that and only six weeks later, we were on our way to west Texas. This was a very significant memory though, because later in life, my brother grew to be a man I hold in the highest regard, utmost admiration and adoration. I cherish this memory like something sacred because, I’m not afraid to say, I look up to my little brother and love him dearly.