I knew it was an important moment and one I needed to burn into my brain. And as I stood at the end of the narrow concrete walkway up to my new front door – an apartment front door – holding a small box, I whispered to myself repeatedly: “I’m four years old.”
“I’m four years old. I’m four years old.”
This was the day I moved from Houston to Fort Worth, Texas with Mom, my brothers – and my new step-father. A day I obviously never forgot.
At that young age I knew, (even if I didn’t know I knew), my life would never be the same and must be mentally recorded.
Now it occurs to me that I can’t really remember much before that. I can recall flashes of the “black house” (as it was nick-named) that I lived in with Mom and Dad. I have mental snapshots of a living room with a nondescript couch. There are pictures of my toddler self being held by my big brother in our pool.
We had a pool? Of course we did. I know because of the pictures.
But I don’t remember life before “I am four years old.”
I don’t remember anyone telling me I was going to be moving. I don’t remember… being told anything really.
I just remember the sidewalk and the box… and that moment; a life with a different Man of the House.
In the ’70s we hadn’t yet arrived at the “Oprah Consciousness”. No one was really that concerned with how the kids would handle the big move (not to mention a divorce). Or perhaps, if there was concern there was no readily available mapping system set in place everyday on ABC at 4pm for How to Transition the Kids.
Was that Sidewalk Moment my way of transitioning myself? Taking a mental snapshot? Talking myself through this turning point? “Don’t forget this. It’s important. I don’t know why. But I must remember.”
What mental “snapshots” did you take as a child to mark a moment of great importance?
I sit here writing and I think, “I am forty-something years old. I am forty-something years old….”
It doesn’t have the same ring.
Perhaps I feel am not moving. Or more accurately, moving too much. No Sidewalk Moment but too many sidewalks. Box replaced by a kitchen table, a glass of Spanish wine, and an nearly finished musical.
If you could travel back and tell your four year old self something, what would it be?
I would kneel beside that little girl, watch her watching her new front door whispering her mantra…
…and whisper in her ear…
…it’s good to be four.