At some point during the two months between my arrival in the United States and my birthday, my family moved house, and in that time, only one thing —an object— remains in my memory. I understand that what I am about to reveal may seem unbelievable when considering the considerable circumstances under which I arrived in the U.S. Nevertheless, when trauma ensues, little makes sense to the logical mind. And so, the object that holds fast in my memory may not even be something that I ever actually owned. I remember seeing a photo of it when rummaging through old photographs with my family, years ago, but at another time, when I asked about the photo, no one seemed to remember the photo or the object. Thus it seems that that memory may have been completely construed.
My loss then begins to take a darker tone for me personally as I remember a thing that may not have ever existed. All I know for certain is that I have a fond memory of a light pink t-shirt that had, on the front, a screen-printed image of a bear holding its arms out for a hug. I loved that shirt. It was soft and wonderful, and I’m fairly certain I slept in it. I have no recollection of what I ever did while in the shirt, but I remember loving the thing.
One day, many months, perhaps even years after the move, I realized that I hadn’t seen the shirt in a really long time. Thus, a search began. My mother never really knew to which shirt I referred, but she was convinced that it was lost or never made it to the new house. The photo of me in it has also since been lost, and so, whether or not I ever owned such a shirt remains a mystery.
If the shirt existed but was lost during the move, that means that I only wore the shirt for about two months. If the shirt existed but was lost sometime after the move, my parents would have a better memory of it, one assumes, but their memory is vague at best. If the shirt never existed, I have no idea what that says about my childhood psychology. No matter the truth of the shirt’s reality, the real point probably lies within its overall significance to me and my mind.
At least once a year, around my adoption day and/or birthday, I think of that shirt and fill my mind with all the same questions I had about its whereabouts after the day I first realized the shirt was missing all those years ago. Why do I remember a shirt that I, potentially, never owned? How do I still long for a shirt that —if I actually had it at some point— I only wore for a few months? What, perhaps, is the greater metaphor for that time in my life? Even still, turning one’s life into metaphor probably is not all that psychologically healthy; again, one can only assume. If I can know the truth, I would honestly like to know. If I cannot, I’ll think back fondly on a time when I remember nothing except for the moment I realized I had lost that shirt.