Several of my early childhood memories come from photos; things I think I remember but can’t possibly. Or I remember the distorted memory combination of vagueness, photograph, and someone else’s recollection.
One thing that I distinctly remember happening was when we were living in a Queens apartment. It was a somewhat dark apartment with table lamps and heavy drapes. We lived on the second floor and there was a big picture window across the living room. I think I was wearing a yellow dress and my hair wasn’t a bob – it was too messy to make a proper bob, but it was neck length and all over the place with those baby curls that nearly everyone has in toddlerhood.
We had no screens on the windows and they opened with those crank handles. There was a bird sitting on the windowsill, chirping, and I wanted him to come in to play or to visit or whatever toddlers think they want when nature is so close and yet so far.
I cranked open the window and in he flew.
This was great for about a second and a half until the bird realized that he was inside and I also realized that he was inside. He didn’t bounce off walls or shriek. He left that to me. I ran around our living room and then into our kitchen – it was a combination kitchen/dining area and stood on the table, yelling at. my mother to get rid of it.
It swooped and hovered and never once tried to leave.
My mother with all the grace of a cackling scarecrow chased it around the apartment with a broom until he flew right back out of the window.
My mother cranked the window shut and that was the end of my bird watching days.
She may have given me a glare as reprimand.
This might be one of the reasons that my family never had any pets.