1000 a Day – Day 2

Some people claim that they can remember the moment of their birth, or shortly thereafter. Some even claim to be able to remember their time spent in the womb. Sadly, I have no such ability. My memories of my early childhood are limited to say the least, though I’m hoping to be able to uncover more of them as time goes by. Not a common expectation I’m sure as how often does any of one’s abilities grow more refined with the passage of time, other than actual refinement, but nevertheless. I do, however, remember the circumstances surrounding my birth with cinematic detail.

The first image that comes to mind is one of a low row-house, covered in snow, late in the middle of a winter’s night illuminated by yellow streetlamps. As the house fills the screen, you can hear sounds of effort, of a woman in the throes of labor. It would of course be completely isolated in some empty, rural field, somewhere in non-descript China, surrounded by other such but darkened houses, surrounded but alone. In this humble location, I “remember,” in quotes that is, being born on November 15th, 1983 in one of the worst snow storms in recorded history.

Now the actual truth of the matter is quite far from what my memory tells me. I was born in Jinan, China, quite a large city actually, just a couple hours south of Beijing by train. I’ve been there as recently as 2005, and was told that I was standing in the apartment that I had been raised in when small. I don’t actually ever remember Jinan being the sprawling city it actually is; my memories are more of weeping willow trees along the banks of misted rivers in summer time. I think I was even born in an apartment complex, in that one, or more likely, a hospital. It may have been snowing though, as November’s in China have been historically cold, but the aforementioned image conjured by my mind may actually have its roots in popular media re- or mis- interpretation. I may have fabricated myself a far humbler birth than actual, and I’ve no idea if it actually was the worst snow storm in recorded history.

I’ve never taken the time or the effort to clear up these details with my parents. I don’t think I’ve even asked them once about the subject. I’ve much preferred to maintain the image of my mother, sweating in labor as she struggles to deliver me with the help of my grandmother, the only doctor in the area, my grandfather gently holding her hand, using only the tools on hand one would find in any house: a tin wash basin, its paint worn from years of use, a dish towel, soaked with fire boiled water, an old People’s Liberation Army jacket, bundled in a corner for use upon my birth. The house has been snowed in you see, by that record snow fall I mentioned, and there’s no way for them to get out to the local area hospital. It’s pure luck that my grandmother happens to also be an obstetrician.

Obviously, none of this can even possibly be remotely true, and is more likely the result of a subconscious conglomeration of poor and oft overused fiction writing cliches. If we accept that though, that my memories are pure fabrication, then the circumstances of my birth are completely shrouded in mystery. Hmmmm…I wonder which is more narcissistic for me to assume? Because that would mean that all indications I’ve had regarding the nature of my birth, are false, and since all indications couldn’t have been formed internally, some must have come from somewhere, then there is a force out there that is trying to hide the truth from me; someone, doesn’t want me to know. Hmmmm…(indicate sarcasm here).

The part about my grandmother was probably true though; she is an obstetrician.

I’m realizing now that this is actually a very poor, though appropriate, subject to have written about today. Poor in that there’s not much in it except for a very lengthy and wordy admission of complete ignorance; appropriate in that this could somehow in some way count as my very first memory, though if anyone recognizes those scenes I’ve just described from some other book or movie, do let me know and maybe then I’ll understand where they’ve come from. Until then, I might actually shift my belief to one of paranoia and assume there’s some vast worldwide conspiracy to hide a dreadful secret from me.

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