I’m bare skinned and belly down on a lamb skin rug. I’m watching myself in a mirror fixed to one side of a triangular plastic toy. The carpet is orange. I’m looking at my eyes. I’m seeing that that’s me inside that little fleshy suit of baby skin. That wriggly pile of pink with dimples on my palms and cheeks hanging like over-ripe fruit. My mother’s voice is saying words from somewhere down the hall.
I’m 3 months old and I can lay on my tummy and hold my own head up.
Hi me. Hi little me, I’m saying to myself.
And it’s this same brain I have now only smaller. But the thoughts echo in that familiar voice.
Hello soul. You are in a body.
This is my first memory. I remember the smell of that house—crackers and coffee, and my first memory of pain when I pulled on my mothers robe spilling a scalding cup of coffee down my backside. She soothed me in a cool bath. I cried for hours. It wasn’t her fault. How guilty she felt for drinking hot coffee. Poor mother.
I’m her first child. She doesn’t know how this goes. And in my eyes she is perfect. The most perfect loving creature. When she holds me all is right in the world. I have always understood love through the language of touch. There is love in her skin.
I sleep in my parents bed for months beyond the expiring of that window the world today might call appropriate. I say, pankos mommy, in the mornings and she makes me a singular pancake and a scrambled egg.
And these are our mornings. Simple and delicious. Happy to lay in that great landscape of sheets resting a sweaty little paw on my mothers cheek and gazing at a face that years from now my own will grow to resemble.
Here, I still think of my body as an extension of my mother’s. It makes every separation terribly full of anxiety and confusion. But that face in the mirror. That singular face. My face. Who is she. What is a she. What is a me. I am still asking this.