What is the first memory you have?
When I was four years old, my family lived in Florida. While we only lived there for a very short period of time, I still remember everything about that house… the way it looked… the way it smelled…. the way it made you feel to be there. Every so often, and at the most random of moments a feeling will come over me that takes me back to those days. I’m not really sure what triggers it- perhaps a song or a smell… either way the feeling only lasts long enough for me to realize it’s already beginning to fade away.
Whenever I think of that old house, what I long for the most is that huge backyard. Truthfully, the yard was probably very small… but from my four-year-old perspective it was an endless landscape of adventures waiting to be had. Besides the in-ground pool, there was a sandbox that I played in everyday with my brothers and sisters. I don’t know why, but somehow we had gotten it in our heads that if we worked diligently we could dig our way to China. Each day the five of us would gather at the sandbox with our plastic shovels in hand and at day’s end the hole would be a little deeper than the day before. Every so often we would wake to find the hole had mysteriously been filled with sand all the way back up to the top. But a little sand never deterred us. We were confident that one day we would discover the shortcut to that far away place.
When we weren’t playing in our backyard, we would play a game that we’d made up inside the house. There weren’t very many rules to the game, the most important one being that we could only play our game in the afternoon, when the sun was blaring down on the back side of the house. There were two glass doors on either end of the house and every afternoon the sun would shine through, it’s bright rays falling across the fiery-red carpet. This created a bright square on the floor in front of both doors. These squares served as “base”. To begin, we would all cram onto one of the bases, trying very hard not to step out onto the shadow (those who did were ‘out’). Whenever the sun would dip behind a cloud the shadow would crawl across the carpet, and the base would disappear. During the brief moments in which the sun was hidden we would all dash like we were mad across the length of the house to fall into place in front of the other glass window before the sun returned. If someone didn’t make it in time, they were out. It was a sort of musical chairs that we played with the sun until it began to set.
I don’t know why I idolize those moments in my life, but I do. Maybe it’s because not too long after we left Florida we ended up homeless for nearly a decade. Maybe it’s because if abuse existed in my household during that timeframe, I never noticed it. Whatever the case may be, it was a simpler time and I’m glad to have had it.
Peter Combs is a 28 year old husband, writer and former foster child. He currently lives with his wife, Renee, in Atlanta, Georgia. Peter is the author of the blog Home.