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Trauma at any age can stick with you forever. and apparently suppresses many other memories My first memory of life as a child took place at Torrejon AB just outside of Madrid, Spain (I think it is the international airport now). I am pretty sure I was three at the time, but I have no recollection of the timing. I remember being in the yard and the huge rock wall, which was all of about 3-4 feet high. On the left, there was a stone embankment that had a steep but gradual incline. On the stones of the embankment, lizards would routinely appear and disappear as lizards do. My mind says they were the size of iguanas, but I am pretty sure they were just gecko-sized.

One of the afternoons, while I was out playing, I found myself completely covered in ants. I remember a woman (I think she was a housekeeper) running out with a straw whisk broom and brushing the ants off of me. I am not sure they ever bit me, but since that day, I can smell ants — seriously — not to the level that I can differentiate them, but I know when they are near. I also have an affinity for whisk brooms.

In a house above us — beyond the stone wall was a boy that used to play there. One day he decided to climb a tree in his yard. I cannot tell you how big the tree was, but when he fell, it was tall enough for him to split his head open. I remember a helicopter coming in and taking him to the hospital, which, given this was 1966, seems pretty remarkable. I did find out from my mom that he did survive.

My brother was born during this time, and while I have some vague recollection of his presence, there are no concrete memories of his arrival or life with the new baby.

I have vague memories of spending time with friends, primarily the Richardsons, but I think most of those stem from the photos in an old album. Photos of Valle de los Caídos were always a favorite, and when I was older, I had a chance to revisit the monument. I do have a memory of attending a bullfight at the Plaza de Toro Las Ventas and used to have some really cool posters.

My last memory of Spain is the flight home at the age of four. I remember the stewardess making an announcement that children could come to look out the window and see the clowns — I remember being so excited — imagine my disappointment when it was just clouds. That flight had a cool memory as well. It was a propeller aircraft, and at night, while flying over the Atlantic, flames could be seen shooting out of the engine.

Welcoming the Z9
city skyline under blue sky during daytimeThe Wonder Years 1967-1972 part 1

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