“The Puzzle I Am to Myself” – Writing on Childhood Experience & Identity

atomsofthought is a blog described as “Essays on travel, identity, literature, and philosophy.”  In a short time I’ve come to eagerly anticipate these posts landing in my in-box.  The writer, Nick Bromley, demonstrates a transparency and a willingness to seek answers while still being comfortable in the unknown that I find truly fascinating and effective.

In his May 9 post titled Gotta Keep Moving; The Puzzle I Am to Myself, Bromley remembers a specific childhood game with a friend that suddenly brings a hairline crack into a mysterious aspect of his own identity and perception of himself.

Enjoy this brief and open-ended reflection (shared with permission of the author), and consider how it may expand your own ideas around putting childhood experience into words:

Gotta Keep Moving; The Puzzle I Am to Myself

The 747′s engines roar to life. I raise the window shade and peer out at the flatness of DFW International Airport. The plane throttles forward and lifts from the runway. I leave the ground. I leave home, museum of my childhood, repository of first memories, first loves, first losses, the place where tiny fragments of me dangle from tree limbs I once climbed as a boy or rest alongside beloved scaly pets I buried in the yard.

Sometimes I feel like I’m smeared across time and space, scattered among people I’ve known well or barely spoken to. I forget myself sometimes, then a person or an object from the past jogs my memory. They tell me who I was with a knowing look or a trivial comment: “Gotta keep moving,” says Jon from elementary school, referring to one afternoon seventeen years ago when we played H-O-R-S-E together in my driveway. He had to sink a fade-away jump shot or else incur an ‘R’. “Gotta keep moving,” I said to Jon that day as he turned toward the basket and sent the ball gliding through the hoop.

Now, with that one statement, Jon hands me a piece of the puzzle I am to myself, and I remember. I remember that we were once twelve, he and I, and I feel the zest and confusion of that age. I’m twelve again. I’m twelve and I’m twenty-nine and many ages besides. And for a moment, that somehow makes sense.

“Gotta keep moving.”

Image credit: A vintage puzzle piece pin, available from ME2Designs on Etsy.

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