Tuesday, November 27, 2007

First memory essay

* again, I know we did these a long time ago but I didnt want to accidentally exclude something that might count as a blog.*

My eyes slowly open. Hesitantly they adjust to the ever changing natural light that is so typical of late Texas afternoons. I lie in bed watching my room switch gradually from light to dark wondering what causes this strange phenomenon. The autumn wind hisses violently outside my bedroom window, but, instead of fear, I am confused. My world is filled with questions. I don’t understand anything yet and my only experiences are either joyful or bewildering. My thoughts are still blurred from sleep when I hear a familiar voice singing far away. I become focused; I see only glimpses of pink wall and gold doorknob as I stumble out of bed and unsteadily make my way to the top of the stairs. I can hear the voice even clearer now, I recognize the words but they stay simply as known sounds in my head, refusing to reassemble themselves into any meaning. I look down to my goal far beneath me. I know that voice, it belongs to the kind face I can clearly see in my head but that person remains nameless and I have no way of vocalizing my desire to ascend the slope before me. My curiosity and desire finally supply me with enough courage to attempt the stairs. I turn around and slide down to a flat landing where I can see around the walled bend in the stair. I take in a big bright room and long curly blonde hair bobbing around and singing. I am shocked and again perplexed. This is not the form that I had hoped to see. The source of this familiar voice is not the person I had expected. I sit here for a second or two more and then carefully make my way down the rest of the mountainous stair case on my stomach. My hopes were dashed, yet I still continued hoping that my eyes were lying. They were not. I wondered for a long time where the person I had hoped to see had gone and why an, equally dear yet, unexpected person possessed that same sound.
I distinctly remember the scene I described above, not because of my surprise or disappointment but, simply because I was filled with an overwhelming sense of confusion. I remember puzzling over this unexpected turn out for a long time and eventually crying because I could make no sense of my mistake.
Looking back on this occurrence now, I realize that it was my grandmother’s voice that I thought I was hearing. I know that when I was younger my grandmother came to stay with us because my mother was very close to giving birth to my younger brother. I always associate my grandmother with singing. All throughout my childhood she was never quiet. She was usually either talking a mile a minute or singing at the top of her lungs. I think that during this visit while my mother was pregnant she must have been singing a lot too. My mom has told me many times that I loved to sing along with my grandmother and would follow her everywhere, hanging on to every word she spoke. This must have been why I decided to forego the comforting warmth of my toddler’s bed and venture downstairs seeking the source of that wonderful voice.
I now also realize that it was my mother’s voice that I had mistaken for my grandmother’s. I remember from previous experiences that whenever my grandmother had to return home after a visit, my mother would sing the same songs as my grandmother in attempt not to miss her so much. I can still see my mom dancing around the kitchen on a typical afternoon after my grandmother had left, her big blonde Texas hair fanning out behind her bobbing head. This image mingles with the one I have of my grandmother in the same place except this time it is silky strawberry blonde hair that bounces on her shoulders as she cleans the kitchen and belts out gospel music in her strong yet gentle voice.
In many ways my mother and my grandmother blur together. Their voices and mannerisms are so similar that as a little child, I am told, I often referred to them interchangeably. This explains why I truly believed that I would find my grandmother in the kitchen after awaking from my afternoon nap and venturing down the stairs.
While I believe that the scene I described at the beginning was the first time that I ever mistook my mother’s voice for my grandmother’s, it was certainly not the last. I have many memories from my early childhood of waking up early in the morning or after a nap to the sound of what I thought was my grandmother’s voice in the kitchen. I would always hurry out of bed and rush down the stairs sure that I would see my grandmother’s face smiling up at me. Every time that this happened, though, it was only my mother singing.
I have never told anyone about the many times that I rushed downstairs hoping to see my grandmother. This is most likely because, even in my little child’s mind, I thought that my mother would be hurt if she knew that I only jumped out of bed because I thought that my grandmother was here. Over time I have been able to make sense of that earliest memory because of the many times that I was doomed to repeat that same blunder and the various bits of information that have filled in some of the gaps I missed as a young toddler. Even now, I can still see my mother’s bright hair and perfect smile looking up at me from the bottom of the stairs. I feel my disappointment acutely for only a moment and then I join her in the kitchen comforted by the pure joy that is always emanating from her.

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