Sunday, January 10, 2010
There are times when I feel that I remember very little of my childhood and other times when strange images and experiences of my senses come flooding back. If I close my eyes just now, I can see the old Stride Rite shoe store. It's long gone now and there's a small shopping center occupying the space.
In those days, children's shoes were a serious business. They weren't just adult styles made tinier with the appropriate cartoon character emblazoned on the upper as they are today. Children never wore sneakers or even shoes that appeared comfortable. They were well-structured boots that were designed to support those unstable toddler ankles. It was supposed we would never learn to walk properly unless our feet were trained to do so.
I don't really remember being fitted for shoes, or what kind I wore. I remember the store. I remember it being very bright with white walls, inside and out. Mostly, I remember the carousel.
There was a carousel in the store. While mothers shopped, children rode the carousel. Perhaps we got a ride once we'd behaved and quietly had our feet custom-shod. Perhaps our mothers simply needed a few moments of peace while we were being entertained. I don't remember.
I remember the carousel and inside this memory, the feeling of being a child and more importantly, being my mother's child. Each memory of her is precious, so I search through the hazy fog of time to find them and fine-tune them, to experience them once again and keep them safely tucked away in some region of my brain that won't discard them. Memories are spotty things, and sometimes I don't have enough of them to fill the void my mother left in my life when she died.