This is a loose list of memories from my early childhood.
Once I read a statistic that a large number of people live no farther than two hours from where they were born. For most of my life, until almost three years ago, I was part of that statistic. Now I live quite a few hours south of there.
My parents were from Maryland, had met in high school there. They went to Kenwood High School. After they got married, Dad worked for the Baltimore County Bureau of Highways and did some other jobs including playing in a band with his brothers. Mom was a stay-at-home-mom and worked odd jobs.
I was born in Baltimore, MD. The city. The first place we lived in, after I was born, was Cove Village apartments. Afterwards, my parents bought a house in Middlesex. It was a tiny town home, a row home. I remember the small white stove and my mom making cookies. I recall that my brother was, then, allergic to peanuts. I also remember the stairs to the basement where my brother tumbled down and broke his arm. Mom had a job taking dictation through headphones and situated herself at a small table with a typewriter in the basement. She typed on this thin typing vellum with a line and small numbers down the left side. Seeing I liked to draw, she gave me her typing paper and a pen to draw with. At some point, I think I was five or six, I drew one of our dogs, a Schnauzer, with paw raised. It really looked like a dog and very sophisticated from the hand of a kindergartner. Mom saw I had artistic potential and gave me lots of paper to draw on plus some kind of drawing book that had monkeys in it. I became very proficient and famous in first grade for drawing monkeys. I went to St. Clare’s, a Catholic school that had Irish nuns for teachers.
We had a small backyard when I was that age. Across the alley was train tracks and the train went by several times a day. I recall that there was news that some teenager was killed on those tracks. I had some kind of toy I rode that looked like an inchworm. Unsuccessfully I rode it down the concrete steps to the backyard. I’m sure I had some kind of contusion from it. At least that’s why I remember… Later I had a tricycle and so did my brother, Chris. My brother is one year and 8 months younger than I. Our room was small with my bed, his crib, one dresser, some Disney books on top. We were Catholic and I remember a statue of Mary in bright red regalia plus some other religious paraphernalia in my parents’ bedroom.
My folks had a volatile relationship. We moved a lot. I went to eleven different schools over the years until graduation. My parents were not in the military. I got that question from time to time because of all the moving. The funny thing is we didn’t move far. I frequently joke that my parents couldn’t decide which side of the Mason Dixon line they preferred. We either lived in Maryland or Pennsylvania. That’s it. Nowhere else.
What I remember most about growing up was the constant change and having to make new friends. I got pretty good at handling change. I was, luckily, gregarious as a child. I would introduce myself to complete strangers. Dealing with new situations and being versatile was what got me through the hard times when I was bullied and treated like an object. I’ve always known that nothing lasts. Nothing is permanent. If you don’t hold on to the moment, if you realize that “this doesn’t last,” you can go forward. Everything changes and, because everything changes, what is happening now won’t last. If you are patient enough, you can get through it.
Like anyone, I just want to have a happy life and some stability. But, again, nothing lasts. Impermanence is a fact. So, what you choose is happy moments. As a friend has told me, “I’ve never had a bad day. Only bad moments in a day.” Always moving and dealing with change has shown me how to stay resilient, how to get past difficulty. Nothing lasts.