It’s hard to tell. I have a jumble of them from age 1 or 2 to age 6 that it’s near-impossible to place in chronologic order and claim “This one! This is my earliest memory!”
Each person has their own special place within the home setting to simply be, I think. Mine is in the shower.
My showers take hours, sometimes days, as the boiling-hot water scrubs away dead skin and memories. I’ll squat in the cold porcelain under the steaming pellets of rain, head down, facing Mecca, beads of water like Mardi-Gras streamers down my face dripping onto thick pink-and-peach legs, and converse with God and my Self. The places where my mind leads me by the hand to are dark and dusty, sepia-toned ’60s fotos of insecurity, instability, acting-out, and all-invasive painful loneliness that after seventeen years of living with I’m finally airing out. A beautiful Anais Nin quote- “We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are”- exposes the inner workings of my soul in this time as I stare at soft, pale inner forearms that mirror the hard, white bathtub I crouch in. Despite the smoothness of my skin the muscles beneath are solid and hard, not used to sweet treatment and an easy life. White keloid scars criss-cross over sinews, knuckles, and veins; one black stamped tattoo reading “copyright 1986 All rights reserved” in two stark lines on my left wrist glares up at me like a concentration camp signifier. But if you didn’t know me, you’d think it was funny. If you didn’t test my muscles, you’d only notice the natural silk-smooth quality of my skin. If you didn’t look hard enough, and know the signs of what you were seeing, you’d barely notice these scars that stand out to me like living neon signs of all the trouble I’ve caused and been in. Likewise, I have a magnifying glass held close between me and my soul, highlighting the negatives of my past in childish attempt to keep them from developing, the things I’ve done and said I regret with all my heart, and the things that were said and done to me that left an indelible mark. But if you didn’t know me, you’d think the life stories I dress up with comical exaggeration funny. If you didn’t test my reactions to stressful situations, you’d only notice the natural compassion, insight, and grace I try to bring to every situation. If you didn’t look hard enough, and know what you were seeing, you’d barely notice the effects growing up in a broken household in an area where since the age of seven it’d been impressed on me my body is just for sex and my views on Life are worthless has on the soul that seem so blaringly loud from my viewpoint, because I’m so close to the noise.
The clarity of the water hits me and swirls down the drain clouded with self-doubt, selfish narrow-mindedness, painful compartmentalization of the heart, and lonely needful dependency trying to find a home in someone else. I feel ghosts of wings brushing my back with the staccato rhythm of the cleansing drops, and I wipe my face with hands cupped to gather Life-giving water as a final act of du’aa, whispering through crystal cleansing rivulets “La illaha ilallah.” I stand up beneath the steaming rain, and finish a more ritualized cleansing ablution complete with icicle-cold water shocking my skin from pink-and-pale olive exaltation into blue-and-white rigid turgor. My cleansing ritual complete, I towel off to pray, knowing it’s only a matter of 12 to 24 hours before the dust cobwebs over my soul and it’s time to begin all over again.
(“Tell me what you love and I’ll tell you what I am.”) ~ Creole proverb