30 Day Writing Challenge
Day Two: Your Earliest Memory
I can remember pieces of my life from ages two and three. However, my earliest complete memory is from a fall evening in 1984. At the time, my mother and I resided in Guam as she was in the Navy and received orders to report there. Though we were far from our family enclaves stateside in Indiana and Washington I was quite happy with our existence. Even now I remember the time we spent in Guam fondly, and I trace my enduring desire to live near water back to my mom’s service in the Navy.
I’m sitting on one of the bamboo stools at the kitchen counter, my narrow dark legs swaying back and forth. Mama is in the kitchen, hovering over the various dishes that she’s made for the evening. Tonight Mama is having a house party. I know this because she went over her plans with me before she started her preparations.
“Daniellee a few friends will be over tonight. You can stay down here with me for now and help out, but once people start to arrive you will go to your room, understood?”
“Good, that’s my sweet girl! Now do me a favor and set these paper plates out please.”
I climb down from the high stool to do what my Mama asked. There is no silence as Mama’s favorite tunes which are now considered ‘old school’-fill the space of our two-story house.
‘Givin invitations to everybody,
To come along with L.T.D. and party;
Forget any troubles that you might have,
Let yourself be free, get into the madness’
Within hours, Mama’s friends start to show up. My Mama’s friends all had unique dialects, which I would later realize marked the distinctive geographical regions of the US they hailed from. None of them were bound to Mama and me by blood, but they all felt like family nonetheless. Sure, there was friendly competition and trash talking among those who were in different branches of the USAF. But whether they were sailors or marines; whether they repped the gritty streets of the Northeast or laid back country living of the South they had a tight bond with one another. I prefaced every woman’s name with ‘aunty’ and every man’s name with ‘uncle’. Soon the first floor of our home is full. At first, I hang out downstairs, greeting everyone with my Mama and dancing to EWF by myself on the makeshift dance floor of our living room. But once the alcohol, cards, and bones come out Mama quickly brings my fun to an end.
“Okay Danielle, it’s time for you to go upstairs”, she says, standing near the base of the stairs and extending her arms to me. I pout but walk towards her anyway. Mama scoops me up, kisses my cheek, carries me to my room and tucks me in. When she shuts my door I sit right up in my bed anyway. I know I’m supposed to go to sleep, but there’s no way I can rest with all that frenetic energy in my house! So I jump out of my bed and start pulling my dolls out of my toy chest. The music is loud enough for me to feel the bass in the walls and make out the lyrics of every song. When I finally begin to doze off it is the sounds of George Benson that ring in my ears:
‘Cause there’s music in the air, and lots of loving everywhere;
So gimme the night’