In the palm tree lined split lane driveway in front of home, I was riding my red metal tricycle. The pedals were white, and made of plastic. Mother cheered me on from the narrow concrete porch. The apartment was covered in a tan stucco-like materiel. Father wore a shirt with broad horizontal stripes, and stood behind me and to my right. He encouraged me, but also said to be careful, and to not get my toe stuck in the pedal. I rode off, down the driveway as quickly as I could, but afore long, my toe found it’s way into that plastic pedal. I remember crying, and feeling that perhaps I had forever lost use of my foot. Father was quick to untangle me from the tricycle, and not far behind was Mother with ointment and bandage. She drew air between her teeth.
These three are the memories of my first home. We moved sometime after my second birthday, but before my third.
Father and I were sitting in the Arrow, under the overhead lamps of a drive-in diner which seemed to have been closed. Oscar, the family’s diminutive black mutt sat behind us. I don’t recall eating, but I can infer that I was, as Father was holding a hamburger whilst fussing with something near the center console. Suddenly, and without more warning than the obvious, Oscar lashed out and bit firmly into Father’s hamburger, nearly swallowing it whole.
“Aww… well I guess it’s yours now.” he said. Oscar was too busy enjoying his prize to give any sort of reply.
Father never wanted to sit around at home, and from my earliest memories he would always involve me in his adventures. We were in the Arrow, which he always seemed to drive as if we were involved in a race. I learned to hang onto the door handle tightly. The rocks we drove past seemed to reach all the way to the sky. Their unique red color a stark contrast to the pale blue above. Father told me the place was called Garden of the Gods, and it took me a few times of hearing the name before I realized it wasn’t one word: Gardenuvthagods. He told me he was going to climb to the top of those rocks soon, and I knew then that my father must be able to do anything.
The canyon was carved out of the same red rocks I had become accustomed to seeing almost everywhere. There was an old, dead tree, and a ledge which surely was a waterfall if ever water ran through the dusty ravine. Father was talking, and I feel that I had been listening, but I cannot remember a word that was said. He handed me his rifle, and helped me point it toward the tree. I pulled the trigger, and the rifle kicked my shoulder. Father said “Good job, you hit it.” but I was certain I had missed the tree entirely. It was only later, when he showed me the paper plate with several holes puncturing it that I realized the tree had never been the target at all.
There was a black horse, which seemed kind of small to me, as far as horses go. Evidently it was ours, but I only remember seeing it the one time. Father fed it something from his hand, and then we got back in his truck and we went home.
Outside, Oscar was jumping up and down on the roof of his snow-covered house. His pen, as well as the rest of our yard, and the plains stretching out to the horizon were covered in snow. The light reflected off it in rainbows in shades of nearly pure white. Father and I walked off the front porch, and into the playground of frozen water. Oscar leaped from his guard tower, and bounded across the snow, deep as his eyes, the very definition of contrast in colors. Father pointed at the neighbor’s trailer “Huh! Look at that drift.” He pointed at a pile of snow that sat as high as the eves of the home next door. It was truly amazing. Father and I talked about theoretical ways one could play on the drift. My memory is unclear on whether or not we ever made any of them a reality, instead they flicker to the propane tank behind our home, as if the memories are tied… but the only memory I have of this tank is father standing next to it, telling me that he had quit smoking. I had no idea that he ever had.
The winter’s blanket of snow had settled into perpetuity. The wind shelter at the school bus stop was riddled with holes; the dirt roads of our countryside were impacted to sheets of ice. The other kids and I would throw snowballs at each other, and run down the road to see how far we could slide on the ice.
Father owned a truck that was older than I could imagine. He would have to hand crank the engine from a handle where one might expect a front bumper to be. It had a flatbed, which the summer before he had used to take us all out to a bonfire. But this time, it wasn’t fire, but ice we would be enjoying. Father tied a rope behind the truck, and attached to it a tire. The other kids and I took turns sitting on the tire as he drove this ancient truck down the icy country roads, much to our delight.