Stormy Presence

Hurricane Gloria was the first significant storm to strike the Northeast since 1972. We're talking a thirteen year stretch which feels particularly unimaginable these days.

Even prior to '72, it had been twelve years since New York had been hit. And, Gloria was a hell of a powerful storm. Winds peaked at 145, making an impression along the coast.

The pressure system was the perfect variable to churn my life right into existence. My mom was just sixteen days passed her eighteenth birthday when she welcomed me to our Earthly world. I can not imagine the weight of that responsibility as a newly claimed adult.

The story of my arrival has always gone a bit more toward the strength of the storm than nostalgia of my home life. In fact, I'm quite sure we didn't have a home to call our own in those days. We found rooms for rent in the shore towns of Ocean Grove and Bradley and made it work.

One place, I vaguely recall. It was the location of a story my mom often told me about when I gnawed on the corners of Mrs. Stephan's end tables. Years later, my mom and I returned there to clean her home. I saw the end tables and tried to familiarize myself with the layout of the space. For the first time the questions rolled into my mind. "Where the hell was your mom when we lived here?" I knew the answer was one we brushed under the rug, so I didn't ask out loud.

When I reflect back on what I know about my life then, I'm sometimes filled with uneasiness over the state of it all. Part of me thinks it's shame. Another part of me feels its a strange form of empathy. Maybe it's been both at some point or another. Either way it is what happened. The only personal memory I have from living in that house was when my dad PJ had scooped me up to tag along on a handyman gig. I didn't see much of him, so while he worked my hungry little soul stayed circling his ladder. And with that kind of proximity its no wonder how a huge glob of cold spackle plopped straight on my head. I joke that it was a metaphorical introduction to the surprises life had in store, and more interestingly it is the earliest poignant memory I have. Probably because of the shock and grossness I felt with that mess atop my head.

The feeling of the goup on my scalp sticks with me all these decades later. I find it fascinating how our mind creates these logs of experience which shape our existence. Probably one of the many reasons I was drawn to study psychology in college.

Do you ever think back to your childhood?

What is the earliest memory you have?

Try to remember something that wasn't part of a story someone told you.

Got anything?

Maybe the taste of a certain food takes you back time and time again. Or the scent of a blooming garden flower. Perhaps the smell of a rain storm or waxy crayons transport you?

I wouldn't be surprised if your nose has something to do with it. Our olfactory system is one of the strongest sensory processors our brains use to link to our long term memory formation. This system, simply put, is the circuitry responsible for our ability to sense our environment through smell. I guess you could say, the nose really knows.