In the backyard of the house where I grew up, well -- the split level 2 car garage, (but only ever housed on automobile at a time) single family dwelling where I aged from 3 to around 18 years old my Dad built a 2 story play-house (as we called it) and a sand-box. Perhaps it was not as much 2 stories, but a little fort built with an open roof that had waist high walls all around the perimeter. It backed up to the property line that had a 12 foot tall hedge grown next to over a regular size chain-link fence. The name of the plant, bush or tree -- whatever it was kind of looked like the hedge here, though. They were fun to climb in, definitely. The hedge was nearly as high as the railing on top of the play-house. This meant that behind the play-house was a sheltered kind of a cool hiding, cave like place.
When I was in kindergarten I went to a elementary school, which is now a Montessori school and every time I drive by, the building and campus seem to get nicer and nicer. Granted, I only drive by once a year or these days, so maybe I just forget that they painted this or that. It was within the last couple of years that I actually stopped and got out of the car and went to the playground. In Portland, many playgrounds have this large structure that has no walls, only a high, usually slanted roof -- this is so the kids can still go out at recess even when it rains. We had many "Undercover-only recesses." Underneath were basketball courts and the like. When I was in either the 2nd grade or 3 grade, or, for that matter, 1st grade or kindergarten I remember we painted a huge map of the United States on the asphalt under neath the Under-Cover. It was still there, 25 years or so later. At some point in my elementary school career the empty lot that was across from the school grew a Fred Meyer, which is a one-stop-shopping-center. When in the Pacific Northwest, feel free to cal it Freddys. What was cool was that there was, at least at some time a crashed airplane that was hauled there after it crashed on 158th and Burnside in 1978. In fact, I really don't recall if I actually saw the fuselage and such there on the empty lot (pre-Freddys) on 148th and Division or if I just knew that at one time, there had been a crashed airplane on the lot. Didn't matter though, I will always remember that lot in what now is not such a nice part of town as the crashed airplane lot. Here is the information about that crash, that occured 75 days after I was born.
We lived quite close to the school, so much that I remember walking to school. I'm sure the first year or so It was with Mom. Eventually I would just meet up with other kids in the neighborhood and walk with them, and then walk home after school by ourselves as well. I remember one day better than the others -- the day that I pooped outside between the play-house's backside and in the thick, lush hedge. I think I was there with a friend, and we were waiting for my Mom to get home, but, I really, really had to go. So I went. And that was that. I have a vague feeling that I may have feared getting in trouble, but was really excited having poop in the hiding spot and maybe I could get a friend to step in my poop or something. In fact, I'm not really sure why or even if I was really excited about dropping a deuce in the backyard. What I do remember is going back the next day, and the next and the next trying to find the steaming pile. In my mind, it was going to stay as I had left it. Most likely it just rained all day and night, like it does in Portland and it just kind of moved along, washed away like every other turd in the history of mankind. Another good question is why I was so disappointed that it was now gone, just a short day later. I'd like to believe that it was some sort of deep truth learned about the constancy of change that we live with. And, I'm sticking with that. So, maybe I did grow up just a little bit at that house.
|You cannot see the sandbox on what was (is?) the southern hall of the play-house. And, yes, there is the hedge as well.|
The recall of this experience was catalyzed by an effort to recall my earliest memory. This was not the earliest, as I was at least in kindergarten (but probably a year or so older than that) and I, for sure have a memory of a spring-time day that occurred in year three, meaning that I was around 3 and a half years old. I remember walking out the side-door of the church that I grew up in, I was by myself and when I walked out it was a bright, blue shining day (these are memorable in Portland, no matter what the age) and then looking at the big, mature Oak tree (actually, thinking back I'm not sure if it was an Oak tree. If anyone knows what that tree is I'd like to know. I can picture the little helicopter thinks that would come off of it). Anyway, I looked at the tree and I though to myself, 'I am three.' Ever since that day I've always held on to that day. Sometimes I don't think about it for a few months at a time, but then something will just trigger that memory and then I'll pause and think about the day that I knew I was three. This may not be my earliest memory either, as I can remember living at the house that my parents had before the one with the play-house. It is very foggy though.
This is amazing to me -- the brain and it's ability to take in and store information. There will never be at time, barring some neurological injury or dementia, that I won't remember the day I knew I was three. It probably will be something that I would be able to recall even if I did have, God forbid, something happen. It may even be there after going through medical school, which is arguably more of a feat. Insert here: brief, obvious but poignant comment about the constant information diet med school students the nation over have been binging and purging.