1. At four, I am nearly stepped on by my mother, who finds me camped on the floor under her side of the bed each morning. I have no recall of this, but I do remember hiding all my toys under my bed and then taking over my sister’s to her chagrin.
2. From five to seven, I learn I can’t have everything when I accompany my mother to the store, that she won’t tolerate tantrums, that I eat too slow, and that I love to read.
3. From eight to 12, I pretended many things. I pretended to be a movie star, both popular and faded varieties. On the property adjoining our duplex, there was a stone well; here I pretended to be a gypsy. My gypsy phase fed my notion that there was a witches coven behind the wall in my and my sister’s room. My mother later painted the walls light purple to hide the scratches I’d made looking for the secret doorway to the coven. By the time I’m 11, I begin to take back my hair from my mother’s machinations. Finally free of braids, pony tails and foam curlers, I next stand up to my father when I inform him I plan to be a vegetarian.
4. From 13 to 16, I watched my parents’ marriage dissolve. The first unraveling began when we moved to a suburb. My mother would turn their fights into a spectator sport, that, in retrospect, I think probably made her feel safer about raising her voice if my sister or I were in the room. When I entered junior high, my father moved out and began living with the first of two girlfriends, who became wives 2 and 3. Both of whom are with men who make them happier now.
5. 16 to 18, I begin investigating my pop culture options. I have become a fan of the Beatles and the Clash, and the first concert tickets I buy are the Police. Later I cut my hair short, like Sting, whose name I draw in block letters on my notebooks. At 18, I still had not lost my virginity, I still had not had my first heartbreak (though I felt differently at the time) and I had years yet to accumulate the scars that received when I was old enough to value them.