My first strong memory after my mother and father separated was living with another man I called “Dad.” I don’t have continuous memory of that period so I don’t really understand the transition. I was…four maybe. Later my mother said that she didn’t “count” him as a husband because he had still been married to a previous wife and thus his marriage to her was null. Today, given other things I have learned over the years (not related to this, but to other things) I don’t know how much of that to believe. In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter.
I remember we lived in a trailer park. Now, these days that comes with all kinds of connotations, but I remember it as a happy time. I had toys. I had friends to play with. Apparently the social anxiety and awkwardness that would plague me in my later life had not cropped up at that time. There were places to explore. We had fun.
While we were there I got my first bike. It was a little thing, appropriate to a four or five year old, with training wheels. I rode it all over the park. Well, sort of. You see, the roads were rife with speed bumps. I’d ride up to one, hit the speed bump, and over the bike would go. Over the speed bump, yes, but also over onto its side. However, with the dauntless fortitude of an explorer barely out of toddlerhood I’d get up, pick up the bike, and set off again.
I remember winter there. I have vague memories of Christmas decorations but the clear memory was of building a snowman. My mother asked if we wanted it to be a snowman or a snow woman and I said snow woman. So instead of being just three giant snowballs piled one atop another, it was actually a crude snow sculpture, with breasts. I remember being disappointed about it growing increasingly distorted over the next few days until, with the next warm snap, it became an unrecognizeable lump of snow before finally melting away.
We didn’t stay here long, nor did my mother stay with this man for long. I was no older than five when my mother was single again and we moved into the next place. I’ll get into that next time.