The first memory I can access glows in the back of my mind, sunshine yellow, and makes my heart flutter; at least that’s how I perceive it this time. Turning 3, running up the steps of our weathered porch, laughing in that pure and joyful way that children do. Our brick house was painted gentle custard color, and in my swirling memory now, it may well have been made of sunshine. After I turn the chipped gold doorknob and fling open the porch door, I see my pink-and-white ballerina cake and there is wonder that explodes from the center of my chest.
Just there, the memory fades. I can’t grasp what I did next, I only know there are photographs that show I opened gifts that thrilled me the second I ripped open the paper, and probably bored me the next day. This memory is one I access often, as it reminds me of what basic, authenic joy feels like when it comes in and floods my body temporarily. When the sunshine ends, and the memory fades to the back of my mind, I’m left with a tearful sense of loss for that time, as I know it will never reoccur. My brain has grown, my range of emotions expanded tenfold, and things done can never be undone. The innocence of my small years has left me, and here I can only access that innocence, never regain it. So I mourn.