There is always a time in the life of a child when they all of a sudden become aware of the world, when their human consciousness is suddenly on full alert and they know what they’re doing and where they are.
For me, that happened to be six years old. This is when the gaps in my memory were filled out. I don’t remember everything, only the most significant events, but I was in full control of my mind, if you get what I’m saying. It seemed to happen when I woke up in the purple mini-van after we had stopped at a Rally’s to get something to eat. My memory of that then skips to me and my uncle walking up the ramp of the hamburger joint. I was slurping a drink, with a bee buzzing around it, him saying something about “it’s just a bee”. It was really hot and sticky. And I remember nothing after that.
I remember kindergarten. I remember the teacher, Mrs. Comden (her name a bit of joke by my parents, though I had no idea why it was so funny), and how she used to wear different dresses the first few days of school, me expecting a new one everyday and counting. During the first few weeks of kindergarten, the class learned the ABCs and 123s. One every day. It was so fun and anticipating, especially with imaginative pictures and music. Every glyph was special and had a different personality. The number “5” was probably my favorite because of its one syllable hardness and being half way between any series of ten numbers. Writing sentences on those dotted line pieces of practice paper is also a memory, the marks being fit snugly within the practice frames.
I was so excited about learning to read and write that I even practiced writing the numbers at home, waking up every night and going to my play desk to write one, feeling the pleasure of my black magic marker hitting the rectangular pieces of paper, every line being carefully created. When I finally got to number “0” I imagined a huge applause being made for me. It was a slow walk to my kid desk in the living room, making it a big moment. I switched on the desk light. Grabbed a prepared piece of paper, the final one, and grabbed my special marker. Relaxed. Heard the audience hush, whispering. Took my marker and carefully drew a nice big “0” and it was done. I admired the work I did, shuffling through all ten digits I had created over a week and a half. In the darkness, a moment like this is enthralling. Just sitting there alone with everyone asleep, having my thoughts to myself and being able to write. That’s how I still am now.
Events in 1997, when I was six:
- Bill Clinton was inaugurated for a second time
- Steve Jobs returned to Apple
- South Park debuted on Comedy Central
- Princess Diana and Mother Teresa die
- Titanic premieres
- Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is born (just saw her on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert)
- The first successfully cloned animal is a sheep named Dolly
- Federal funding on human cloning is banned by President Clinton
- Wi-Fi was invented
I’ve always have a fascination with the mysteries of life. The question, “Where was I before I was born?” always intrigues me. Every search comes up with the idea of reincarnation and big discussions on spirituality, such as the theory that we don’t really exist.
Maybe I was a tree before existing as a human? Maybe a fish or whale? Maybe a cat or a dog? Maybe I was someone famous, like George Washington or Napoleon? Of course, if I were anyone else in another life, I might vividly recount some of their memories, could see, hear, and smell them. If I were a kid on the Titanic in 1912, I would vividly recall the ship violently shaking as it hit the iceberg. If I were a seisterian (fancy name for a six-year old) in Germany during World War II and the rise of Hitler, I would have been only fully aware of the horrible events happening, the destruction and torture.
Imagine if I had once lived in the 1960s, my mom’s time, witnessing the The Beatles and the British Invasion, hearing about the space race against the Soviets being in full force. Hearing about the hippies and Woodstock.
In the sixties, I’d be listening to new records by some of the biggest names back then: Bob Dylan, The Rollings Stones, The Four Season, The Supremes, The Byrds, more “Thes”. Would be playing Spacewar! on a PDP-1 computer. A carton of eggs would cost 53 cents, a gallon of gas 31 cents. I’d see JFK being elected on TV and then his assassination a few years later. I’d see the first man walk on the moon.
A single day in American 1960 would see me being very active – or not. Even if there wasn’t any internet or advanced video games consoles, I’d probably still find some electronic to mess with.
My parents used to say to me that they had to walk X miles to school when they were young, sometimes through six feet of snow, carrying their books in their arms. I’m pretty sure this is an old wise tale. Backpacks or knapsacks were invented by then. Wouldn’t the kids have enough sense to walk around the snow? If I were a kid back then, I would finally know the truth. I’d probably just get a bike instead of wasting my energy walking.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Life’s a Candy Store.”
You get to be a 6-year-old kid again for one day and one day only — plan your perfect 24 hours. Where do you go, what do you do, and with whom?
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