It may have been hot; I don’t remember because I never noticed the desert heat. It was evening, the sun had set, and I awoke in the back seat of the car, truly, for the first time becoming aware. This was my moment of consciousness, the instant my sapience became active, the point where my memories begin in earnest. I know I was four, at the time, probably newly so, though seasons were something hard to discern in Southern California. I knew the people in the front seat were my Mommy and Daddy, and I knew the boy who shared the back seat with me was my older brother. These things I recognized, but I did not know where we were going, and I did not remember what came before. Our dog, Sandy, was with up, too, but I don’t remember him being in the car with us.
I awoke and stood up on the back seat. That’s how small I was. The ceiling of the car was somewhere above me, and it was something I didn’t notice. Mommy and Daddy were talking to each other. I remember the soft rumble of my Daddy’s voice. I walked around on the back seat, then stopped when I saw what was passing by the window.
The strange “men” standing on the sands of the desert, their arms raised, their heads straight extensions of their narrow bodies, stood motionless as we passed them by on the road deeper into the desert. (I later learned that these were cactuses, not men). I believe I spoke to Mommy, then, but I don’t know for sure. I know I had only begun speaking when I was four. My brother was my translator. He seemed to know what I was saying, while my mommy and daddy could not understand a garbled word of it. My mother, later, said I was concentrating on walking, when I was young, so language was a late arrival in my tools of communication. I was walking by the time I was nine months old. The truth is that I am language deaf. Hearing the nuances of words is difficult for me. For that reason I have difficulty learning any language.
The next thing I remember, we were at the camp. There was a building with one large room, with a dining table and benches. That’s where we ate our dinner. Outside the one-room building was a camper-trailer, where my brother and I slept. My impression was that Daddy and Mommy slept in the building since that is where I found them in the morning. They might have awakened before I did, but that is not something I would have considered.