My First Adventure
Just after my third birthday, my father switched jobs and our family moved to Arizona from Colorado. Growing up in the desert climate of the Grand Canyon state (see “One Hundred Years” from March 2012) clearly shaped my passion for warmth and my distaste for snow. Our family traveled separately to arrive at our new home with my father and me driving from Denver to Phoenix by way of Albuquerque, while my mother flew with a four-year-old and six-week-old. While not my first road trip, I recall select pieces of this drive, but nothing of the scenery. I wonder if maybe I was too little to see out the window.
South from the Mile High City, across the state line into New Mexico, through Santa Fe, and down to Albuquerque we drove, making a right turn towards the mountainous areas of Flagstaff during the month of December, and then a left turn towards Arizona’s capital. I passed through three of my now favorite states, and all without a single recollection of the mountains, the sunsets, the rocks, the rivers, or the route that brought me to my childhood home. I sometimes think it would be worth retracing my steps and driving this route again, but without the initial recollection of the voyage, it might be just another gloriously scenic drive, but not a memory inducer.
The Moments We Remember
I recall only a few memories of my time living in Colorado – watching out the picture window waiting for my Dad to come home from work, his painting the deck a color the paint can referred to as “peanut butter,” and singing “Sugar, Sugar,” a number one hit from 1969 by the Archies. It always strikes me as odd, what things we remember. A paint color (which I also remember getting on my beach ball) and a cartoon pop song (which I remember hearing while riding in a car with someone who was not my family, but I don’t know who) are two distinct memories I have as a two-year-old. When I went back to visit the house in Denver as an adult, the current resident asked if my parents had picked out the awful rust-colored carpet. If I had to guess, I thought I remembered the carpet being green.
But on the drive from my toddler home to my childhood home, I recall only two specific moments from the trip. The first, when I had an upset stomach and got sick all over one of the two beds in the hotel room (sorry, Dad), so he nervously let me sleep next to him, no doubt paranoid that this little person would get sick again. And then the following morning, Dad tried to get me ready to go by combing my hair with his narrow comb rather than a gentle little girl’s hair brush. Ouch! I know that I cried the entire time. (Again, sorry Dad.) But I wonder how well I behaved in the car, what I maybe said to my Dad while we rode, what scenery we witnessed, and how I passed my time for two solid days. I wish I remembered those moments instead.