My Oldest Memory

swampI don’t know why this popped in to my head? Perhaps it was what I started talking about yesterday… needing to unplug. Perhaps it started to draw other old memories. My oldest memory is the drive to California from Ohio when I was 2-1/2 (not yet 3). I don’t have anything earlier. Not a single memory, not what my house was like, or my room, my family, not even my dad… nothing before it. My parents divorced and so the drive to California began. The new job awaited for my mom in California. I remember my mom had quite the shoe collection, boxes of them lined the back window of the car. Most of the furniture and belongings would arrive after us by moving truck… although not everything arrived, and it was months of waiting. But the drive to California in the early 70’s was my earliest memory. I don’t remember waving good bye to anyone, perhaps I was bundled up in the car asleep is why? I don’t remember driving away from our house. I remember being in the car for long hours, stopping at diners or the occasional dive motel along the way. I don’t remember leaving Ohio… South than West. I remember Louisiana. Not people, or a town, or a place… but driving through the swamp land. Quite a bit of that has long since been land-filled. I remember asking I am sure for the 100th time where we were going. My mom would say we were going to California. She had a new job waiting for her there. I wondered why I was going, to be honest I really didn’t want to go. I wanted to go back home and to this day I should have said so, but I held it in… probably because I didn’t know where that was, no memory of it.. it had been less than a day… and this drive… this moment in time driving through the Bayou of Louisiana was all I really knew. When I asked her, I wasn’t belted in my seat. There was no law for that, kids were free to roam about their cars at will. I was sitting on my knees with my arms holding my seat in our silver Buick staring out at the sunset. The pinkish/yellowish water and dimming light of the swampland… It seemed still and seemed to stick my question and my mothers answer in that moment in time. It would mark my earliest memory. I don’t think I asked again, not for a long time. For some reason I understood in that exact moment, perhaps realizing that my life was different and I did not even understand how different, maybe that is why? I don’t know, probably someone could tell me, but even if they did now, it would not change the memory or how I feel about it. Perhaps the swamp was nature’s symbol of that moment. My parents would not be together again. It would be just my mom and me and so our new journey began. A little wooden train car I wore on a string around my neck. I would learn about it later (the little necklace I wore), but picture a little girl with big blue eyes, long hair down past my butt (I could sit on it), and a tiny wooden train car around my neck… knee high to a toad stool. I will save that story for another day.