Friday, May 19, 2006

Defining Moments: Part 1 of 5, Embarassment

We all have defining moments in our lives—times when we experience our emotions at their absolute strongest. We cry because we’re so sad. Or so happy. Or so angry. And all of it is good, not because it’s fun to be pissed off or embarrassed, but because we as humans need to experience our feelings. Letting emotions pass through or systems like a burrito with a little too much hot salsa is a good thing. We let them in, digest them, then relieve ourselves of them. These are the processes that define our lives.

Emotions like happiness and despair are easy to recollect; we feel these every day, and most of us can remember a great kiss or horrible death. But it’s more difficult to recall obscure moments in our lives that changed the way we lived, ones that pulled us out of a funk. Or into one. Moments that made our faces red, but didn’t set off massive rumors at school. Moments that surprisingly made us feel lucky, or unlucky.

Like I said, we all have moments that define our lives. These are mine:

Embarrassment

One such moment for me happened at the tender age of three. At such a young age, my parents were already sending me to a half-day preschool, and I don’t believe I was too far removed from the potty training process. See, at age 2, my mother gave birth to twins, and when they were brought home from the hospital, I immediately expressed my defiant disinterest in Kyle and Jenna by forgetting absolutely everything I had just been taught about “going” in the “proper commodes.” In the months that followed, my parents did everything they could to convince me that I had already graduated from Toilet School.

I, however, experienced intentional amnesia, which confused me enough to where I couldn't recall whether or not I had the facility to use the bathroom properly. At age 3, in preschool, I should’ve been pretty familiar with the commodities available in the lieu, but my defiance had been going on for so long that I may have actually forgotten how to do My Business.

All of this came to a culmination one day in preschool when I had an accident, but actually not on purpose. I shuffled off to the coat closet before anyone could have an inkling as to what was going on, and I pulled the door shut behind me. The small closet felt huge then, my tiny body a mere speck in the enveloping giganticism of the darkened closet. I focused my sense of smell on the musk of polyester coats and the dusty plastic backpacks that surrounded me on all sides—anything to avoid the smell of my own self.

I don’t remember whether I cried or not, but I stood there in that closet for several minutes with absolutely no course of action in my brain. I guess I figured I’d just set up camp right there in the coat closet, producing a makeshift bed from piled jackets and windbreakers. My stomach churned with anxiety and shame, and I would’ve sold my soul at that point for a clean pair of jeans.

Finally, mercifully, the teacher cracked open the door, presumably looking for me. It is very likely I cried, blubbering out the details of what had happened, and she let me stay right there in that closet until somebody could bring me fresh garments. I was extremely grateful.

And that officially ended my bathroom strike. If it weren’t for that incident, I’d probably still hate the twins and “relieve my emotions” in any dark corner I could find.

That exact instance changed me. Hence: "Defining Moment."

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