What are the three most memorable moments — good or bad, happy or sad — in your life? Go!
I’m not sure a life can be distilled to a top three this way. I have three children and I remember each of their births in vivid detail—except for my daughter’s actual delivery, during which I was unconscious. I remember my father’s death. The love in my husband’s face when we took our vows. The main events loom large because of the importance we place on them at the time, and the way we return to them over the years.
But my most persistent memories are of small things. I remember standing on the sidewalk as a young child, looking out at some distant traffic from the busier road at the end of our street. It was the first time I made the connection that those cars were not toys but vehicles belonging to other families, that other people got in them and drove around like we did. This was the first time I experienced a thought of the wider world and had an inkling of our place in it. A tiny moment, but it has become fixed in my mind like an insect trapped in amber.
I remember arriving at my boyfriend’s house after school one day when we were about thirteen. He had a German Shepherd named Zada whom he loved to tease. When we got to the door, he started pounding on it and shouting, laughing, working the poor dog into a frenzy. Finally he opened the door and stepped aside (?!), and that dog shot out of the house and knocked me flat on my back. She bit me hard just above the breast, which was such an awkward and horrible place to attend to that I pretended for the rest of the afternoon that I was fine and hadn’t been bitten at all.
He did say he was sorry afterward. To which I say, Boys!
I have a collection of memories, as most women do, of men doing bizarre and sometimes frightening things in the pursuit of their own brand of happiness. The first of these came around the time of the Zada incident. I was on my way home from a walk-a-thon. I’d been walking all day and felt so pleased with myself that I decided to walk all the way home as well. About halfway down Eastern Avenue, a motorcyclist stopped to ask if I wanted a ride. He was easygoing about it when I refused, but set himself in my path, hidden off the road in a drainage ditch where he made sure I’d see him jerking off as I passed. I remember how slowly my head turned when he called. The reluctant sideways slide of my eyeballs, the gravitational weight of my skull on its axis. And I remember this odd sense of inflation at the fear and panic. Lightness, numbness. I couldn’t feel my legs when I took off running.
Flash forward ten years to the guy who stripped down unbidden in my kitchen. He was so casual, like, I’m going for a beer, TA-DA! The full monty, baby, whaddya think of that?
I think you need to get out of my apartment, freak. I am scarred for life.