Yesterday a Twitter friend asked what people’s first memories were and my answer was simple, but too complex to explain in 140 characters. My first memories are of my dad; Of being scared by my dad.
My parents divorced when I was about 3 years old so I don’t really remember living with my dad. I can’t tell you if it was a happy time, if he played with me and my older brother, if we went for walks, or went to the park. I simply don’t recall that part of my life. All I have are two small fragments of that time. Two tiny moments of my past. Neither of them happy.
My first memory is of walking with my dad and my brother to his preschool/nursery and being given an old five pence piece to put into one of those toy dispensers that look like giant gumball machines. I can remember turning the handle and the plastic ball that held the toy dropping to the ground and rolling away. I chased it and retrieved the ball from the gutter it had settled in, opening it to find a hopping frog inside. Pleased with my new toy, I turned to show it to my father only to see an empty pavement behind me. I remember running round the corner with tears filling my eyes and seeing another empty street. I ran towards the next corner hoping they’d be there, only to have them leap out at me shouting “boo!”. I can remember them both laughing at their joke, but I can’t remember their reactions to me bawling my eyes out thinking I’d been abandoned.
My other early memory is of sitting alone in the front room of the house we lived in before my parents split. I was playing with my army men, standing them on the table in front of me, preparing them to battle, when all of a sudden the lights went out. This is a scary enough occurrence for a small child, the sudden darkness, being alone, but what happened next left me terrified. I heard a wailing and moaning coming from the doorway and looking up I saw an evil grin and fiery eyes moving toward me. I screamed and heard the laughter of my father and my brother, and as they turned the lights back on I saw the jack o’lantern in my father’s hands.
So there you have it. My two earliest memories. Not good ones, not nice ones, but the only ones I have of life with my father as part of the family.
I suppose that these memories stand out because they evoked such strong emotions at the time. I just wonder how much they’ve influenced my relationship with my dad. We’re not estranged by any means, but we’re not particularly close. It occurs to me whilst writing this that it’s been months since I talked to him. Is it because of the memories I have? Maybe we were close when I was little, when we lived together, but I can’t remember missing him after we moved away. All I remember is being scared by him.