So-called memories from childhood are usually one part memory and two parts the stuff of retold family stories. Colored by fear, longing and delight, they can become landmarks on the map of that place called childhood which we unexpectedly revisit throughout our lives. Here is one of mine.
At a certain time in the summer, our small yard in tropical Miami Springs would be invaded by huge, ugly, multi-colored grasshoppers. In my 3-5 year old mind, their huge eyes, green and yellow bodies, and the rasping sounds made by their hairy legs were the penultimate terror. My older brother was the operational agent in this jihad, taking great delight in throwing the hideous creatures on me when I ventured into the yard.
Worse, he would sneak up on me, and stuff them down the back of my shirt, where they would writhe and hiss. My pulse quickens even now. I would shriek and run, panic-stricken.
This past summer I saw some of these critters again, my old nemeses. There were small, innocuous and, dare I say it? Beautiful.
I know that Miami has become an exciting, international city with star quality. I was born there, but it is not my destiny to live there again.