Often, I lick at the surreal, starred skin that is my childhood. It tastes like butter—blood, plaque scratched from the teeth. Whatever flavor it yields to me, it is never concrete. I try to hold the locket in my hands, break the fingernail on the clasp; but as an abstract, childhood, once we leave it, is inaccessible by touch. When I seek to know more of what contributed to my complexes, childhood does not always permit me entry. Sometimes, I have to break into its vault in the middle of the night.
In the summer of 2015, I interned at Winter Tangerine Review. There I began to revisit my childhood. Divorce, adulthood, and city survival notwithstanding, I found myself asking memories if they would grant me information. Yet memory itself does not follow requests; it is elusive and the by-product of my heart and its feeding tubes. I keep my childhood alive through the insulin of chaos and its reverberations. I keep it in the locket, and in the plaque gathered round memory, which fills in the gaps I can never recover.
This prompted me to ask after my old identities—who had I wanted to be? Is it possible that experiences as early as childhood informed my current state of being? It had never occurred to me that the answers I wanted were all there inside me, though they had been marred by time and existed only as fragments.
At the conclusion of summer and its charms, I proposed “Mythology of Childhood.”
It was important to me that the word chosen to reflect and accompany childhood be mythology. Mythologies reveal truths and mirror the phenomenon of the developing self that occurs in those fundamental years of childhood.. Every self we have ever been is still inside us.
Childhood is a collection of fractured identities and experiences. Their influence is rarely understood unless examined. These memories, surviving the mind when others do not, sometimes appeal to us. Other times, the cracks we can see in our crystal frighten us.
Regardless of the type of memory, childhood remains elusive at its worst and surreal at its best. In developing this spotlight, it was my hope to capture that, at times, unnerving sense of displacement; catch and hold in our hands our most precious, terrifying, and formative experiences.
We take these experiences and rearrange them as dolls. We make them play parts to suit our narrative. This is the reality of childhood: whatever we remember, we cannot remember it as it exactly happened. Our talking heads and perceptions influence interpretation. As it stands, a childhood memory can be warped to our desire. Or perhaps its truth is the objective kind, and we can only wish away the haunt it creates.
“Mythology of Childhood,” explores the strangeness of our earliest memories—how they are slices of sensory palaces and stories. It drags our monsters out from under the bed and begs them to face the light; it catalogs mothers, gods , exquisite pain of rejection and joy of new love that will not be felt again in the same ways.
Here lay bare the bodies of our childhood; line by line, the everlasting glow and stench of us, unfolding.
- Giana Angelillo, Winter Tangerine