24. Buffalo nickel: Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?
My purse was surprisingly bare, but in one pocket there was a lone penny that was dated 1995. It was the year of the Oklahoma City Bombing. When the artist Selena was murdered. When the world watched as OJ Simpson was declared innocent. A year that brought the end of the Bosnian War. A time when we were actually excited about Windows 95 being released. When we could start selling and buying stuff on Ebay. When children discovered their favorite movie, Toy Story in the theaters. What was I doing two decades ago?
I was only two. Young enough to feel as if the world was a completely safe place. That I could do and be whatever I wanted. There are no memories of hardship or tragedy floating across the screen. There are practically no memories at all from that age. At this age I’m letting experience shape the connections in my brain, and constantly soaking up the world around me.
1995 holds my first memory. When I try and retrieve it from the back of my brain it’s like getting out an old film projector, and seeing the images with spots and faded edges. old memories always appear in that warm, yellow light don’t they? The first frame is a pair of black shoes. Shiny, as if this was the first time they had ever been worn. They make sounds against the wood floor and I keep shuffling my feet as if I were a tap dancer to repeat the same effect. I look up and can see down the length of my hallway. A whole stretch of bare wood that I can run down.
I take off, only hearing the click of my shoes as I go. Then I’m on my butt. I managed to slip and I turn my head as if I hear my name. She’s on my right standing in our bathroom, curling her hair, and looks like a giant from my angle. It’s mom. She’s smiling and talking but I can’t hear anything on the film. I look back at my shoes ready to dance again.
The film jumps forward, a little more in focus and with improved color. My dad is holding me against his hip and we’re playing with an Elmo doll. He is in one of his suits and I’m wearing the dress with teddy bears on it. Even though there is no sound I know distinctly that I wanted to bring that doll home with me, not understanding that it was a prop to get unhappy children to smile in order to take a picture.
Then that’s it. 1995 is gone just like that.