I can't figure out why, but at various times all day little images from my childhood have been popping into my head. Memories are like that--they bustle in through the doors like a crazy person into Macy's before you really have a chance to figure out what they're up to.
The ones I keep seeing are of me and my mom in the years when she was a really single mom--working at what I imagine to have been the tedious, slightly depressing job of selling cosmetics at department stores. In the days when I was young enough to be reassured just by the smell of her perfume, the whisper of her dry, cold hand against my face before bed. No big trauma comes rushing in--it's not the big events, not the hollywood tell-all moments that have been lopping into my mind, but actually, for a change, just benign things. The way the light came into our attic apartment on Picnic Avenue, in the "living" room, which was also her bedroom. The funny little crimp of her permed hair in those days. The wild jungle tangle of a yard I played in. The ivy-covered roof that I could climb on over the locked garage.
I suppose there's an aura of sadness behind these memories, but I can't tell if it's for what was happening in those days, or more of a melancholy for childhood itself. The negative is what tends to rise to the surface of my readily accessible memory, but truthfully, I know there were also a lot of moments of wonder. That I absorbed and observed the world and found it to be strange and beautiful. I can almost--not quite, but almost--remember whatever wild zag of inspiration first suggested that I should write it down. I know that for a very long time I felt equal parts angst AND admiration for my life.
(I think these musings have been inspired by my reading of a magnificient and dramatic memoir by NPR correspondent Jacki Lyden: The Daughter of the Queen of Sheba. I'll write more about it soon).