an arbitrary memory

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My dad is in his old blue Ford truck, spreading out rocks to stop flooding in a low spot in the muddy driveway. The stones are round polished ones — those that water has pre-shaped. At the time, the truck still had the front seat with its maroon and yellow stripes.

I am in a red dress with tights — the thick cotton kind that are warm, but itchy and uncomfortable. The kind that come woven with multi-layered diamond patterns. The kind I detested.

I’m pushing one of those toys that is basically a handle attached to a globe with balls inside that pop and chime with motion. I don’t know what they are called. They were a child’s equivalent of a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t function. They make an interesting sound though — at least to a child.

We are at the house. The one I hated.

I don’t know why this particular memory is stamped into the snapshots that are left of my childhood. It seems so insignificant compared to the events that played out around that time. I can’t say exactly what portion of the chronology of my life it fits in, but I have a vague idea. Like an old Polaroid, the edges have faded and the colors yellowed.

I wonder if I have hemmed memories together to create the details of this one. It’s possible I wasn’t wearing the red dress I picture when I think back on it. As evidence of this possibility, it’s odd that I’m wearing the same one in a photo taken several years later, my pixie stick legs bare in that picture, a piece of string belting it.

Maybe that’s how childhood memories still exist. Our minds fill in the gaps we have forgotten, until only the main plot remains accurate. Try as we might, we can’t alter that story line.

And so this picture remains filed away, in the recesses of my memory. I take it out every once in awhile to look it over and wonder why I still have it.


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