Day 14: My first memory
When I was born, we lived in a “cozy,” ancient house in Ridgefield Park, NJ. It was a stone’s throw from New York, a quaint town amongst many bigger towns, lined with hundred year old houses and crooked sidewalks, made lopsided by the old trees that lined the streets.
I have snippets of memories from those first few years. One time, my brother told me we should have a rolling contest down the stairs…he counted down…I went, he didn’t. This proves two things: I will LITERALLY do anything my big brother tells me to, and also, that he was a bit evil as a kid (thankfully he grew out of that). We had an orange carpet, and an old TV in the living room that I have very random flashes of watching Sesame Street on (my favorite! Not that there were so many options in 1985). When I was three, it was becoming obvious to my parents that we were quickly outgrowing our little old house; my bedroom was essentially an oversized closet that just barely fit my crib.
My very first “real” memory, was of my fourth birthday party. It was a beautiful summer day (my birthday is in early July). My parents had a table set up with food, and I remember wandering around, looking up constantly (because it was all adults). I opened up my presents, and among them was a “talk and play.” This was basically a cassette player that came with tapes that “read along” with Sesame Street books. The book/tape that came with this one was Grover scolding; “Do NOT touch THE RED button!” There were four colored buttons on the machine, and my mother kept urging me “Go ahead, push it! Push the red button!” I would, and Grover would yell at me, “I told you! DO NOT touch THEEE RED button!” Everyone would giggle, and on the very next page, she’d tell me to do it again. “Do it!! Push the red button!” Over, and over, I pushed, over, and over Grover yelled, and my mother kept egging me on.
My mother later told me (and by later, I mean five minutes ago, when I brought up this memory) that our little house in Ridgefield Park was sold that day. It was the first, and likely the last, of the memories I had there. I take it with me, though. I can still hear Grover yelling at me. I’m sure, at my fourth birthday, my mother couldn’t, nor would ever have wanted, to think of some of the things I’ve been through already. But maybe pushing me to go against the grain at such a young age is part and parcel of how I’ve managed to keep going…time and again, through every crisis. I’ve defied expectations, I’ve done scary and hard things, and somehow, even with Grover, life coming at me, I keep pushing the red button.