Monday, March 21, 2011

Shirley Erickson reflects

Intense sunlight was streaming through the lace curtains of the east window directly into my eyes.  I was in my crib, wearing a blue flannel outfit with feet.  I managed to roll over onto my stomach, get my knees pulled up and hands outstretched.  Pinching the sheet with my hands, I inched my way toward the head of the crib.

Between the crib rails, I saw a beautiful woman sleeping, her thick auburn hair rumpled.  Next to her, a handsome man, his dark hair cut back from his forehead.  I said to myself, "My mother and my father and aren't they beautiful!" 

I was hungry but I didn't want to awaken them.  I kept clutching the sheet and pushing with my knees until I reached the head of the crib where I grasped the sheet, pulling it back to reveal the mattress.  On a background, a pink pig pranced, a ribbon on her tail and pink rueshing around her throat.  And, there was a horse!  He was blue with white circular dapples...between his ears was a large feather boa. The horse wore a fancy bridle  He was trotting.  Standing on his croup was a beautiful girl dressed as a ballerina.  She was fairy-like, balanced delicately on the trotting horse.  I did my first drawing, tracing the outlines of the horse, the girl, and the pig with my baby fingers.  I knew, then, that I wanted to be a painter, and that horses would always be an important part of my life.  My thinking was that of an adult.

I don't remember previous awareness or verbalization of my thoughts, but a few months later, sitting in a high chair, being spoon fed by my mother, I looked at the people around the table.  My mother, my father, O'Mama (grandmother), sister Anita, brother, Norbert, the hired girl and a guest, an army major on leave from Australia.  The major had just told a joke.  Everyone was laughing, except for me.  The language was too advanced for me.  I decided I would memorize every word, store them away until a later time when I could pull them out of the mental file and finally comprehend.  That became a lifelong habit of memorizing conversations which, years later, could be repeated verbatim...