Trying to remember your childhood is like reading a newspaper through cheesecloth.  Where have those moments gone?  Did they ever happen?  Or was elementary school like one long road trip by yourself, all moments straining into one, the mind collapsing all but the most essential rest stops into a generalized hodge-podge…….

…….it seems to me that for the first few years of my life, at least internally, I prided myself on being a “good boy”.  This seemed like the ideal to reach for, the ultimate thing worth being.  And so it seemed notable to my young mind to remember (forever) the first time I was told I was otherwise.  On the way out of my Kindergarten classroom to go to recess, I ducked under the easel instead of walking around it.  “Seth!” Mrs. Reed scolded.  “Don’t be a bad boy!”  How crestfallen was I!…..

……..I remember but don’t remember meeting my mother halfway along the route that we walked home to school on and telling her I had pooped my pants while at school.  The problem with this memory is that I have no idea if it is a real memory.  Was it a dream?  Was it a fear that I thought of often enough to make it seem a memory?  Or did it happen?  I have no memory surrounding it, just the meeting with my mother, where Big Spring Avenue meets Main Street, right by the fountain.  It is a significant memory, and yet……

……even in Kindergarten, there were supermodels.  Ours was Mary Hoover.  Lord knows how she got the job.  I can’t even picture her now.  But she was who we all desired.  One day at lunch, she must not have known I was sitting close to her as she detailed a list of all the boys she liked.  My name was on the list.  As soon as she said my name, I laughed out loud.  I remember a mortified look crossing her face.  I have no memory of interacting with Mary Hoover before or after this moment, ever.  She was not in school with me in later life.  I have never wondered about her until this moment that I am typing this…..

…..my sister and I are walking on the paved path that leads from the playground to the school, at the part when it is just starting to go uphill and turn slightly (right by the end of the right field fence of the Teener league baseball field).  It is terribly early in the morning; we are about to be at the school.  My sister is crying inconsolably.  I am very young.  I don’t know what to say to her, how to help her.  I remember touching her shoulder, saying something.  This memory is clear, crisp, and still, to a degree, painful.  I have no memory before or after.  I don’t know why she was crying.  I’m still sorry I couldn’t help…..

…….I don’t pine for a return to my childhood.  I had a good one; as good as anyone else’s.  I just want my memories.  I just want to know what the hell happened.  I had thought I knew, but when I try to confront the memories head-on, they run away, disappearing into a contrived mist.  Is this just a facet of childhood, or will I be wondering, 30 years from now, just what the hell happened when I was in my thirties?  How much do we lose, and where does it go?

8 Responses to “”

  1. Kyle Sundgren Says:

    Very beautifully written. It begs the question, is this only in recent years that you’ve had fading memories?

    I found a picture of Mary Hoover http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/leadertelegram.com/content/tncms/assets/editorial/a/43/0b9/a430b925-62e7-59d9-b435-a151f365a6d5-revisions/4d9aa2c717d8e.preview-300.jpg
    She’s still got it.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      haha oddly that looks slightly like my memory of her.

      No, I think the memories have been “barely” there for as long as I can remember (ha!).

      • Kyle Sundgren Says:

        I googled the name Mary Hoover and picked the best one.

        Hmmm, that’s odd. I have a pretty good memory of my childhood. I hope when I reach your age, GASP!, I don’t lose them. I take Gingko Biloba daily though. I’d be really pissed if I’m taking these fuckers for nothing.

        • sethdellinger Says:

          Maybe it’s her! Ha!

          My childhood memory has been sketchy since at least my teens…and then the few clear memories I do have, I hold onto so closely, I fear I probably actually change the memories themselves. Crazy stuff.

  2. Franklin Says:

    I know exactly what you mean. Thanks for putting it into words.

  3. My childhood memories are sketchy too, and I find, that as I am (this pains me to type) edging toward 40, my 20s are now sketchy as well. I find myself remembering events in one way, and then I will find some writing I did around the same time that totally conflicts with my memories. The mind is a very strange thing.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Glad to know I’m not alone, sis. And most of my twenties are gone anyway, but I was hoping to at least hold on to my thirties!

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