The daily writing challenge: write about the earliest memories of the house you lived in.
We lived in the Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat in Amsterdam. I was about two–it must’ve been 1963.
It’s early Saturday or Sunday morning; my parents are sleeping in. The sun is shining through the large front window, brightening the living room and lighting up the white mantlepiece where I see one of Daddy’s hand-rolled cigarettes.
I climb onto a chair, take the cigarette, descend the chair and sit down on the black and red leather pouf by the square coffee table with the black slate top and the hard metal corners. I’m careful not to hurt myself, like Mommy has taught me.
I start to eat the cigarette, very, very slowly, just like Daddy always does. I must be disappointed that no smoke comes from my mouth, because that’s what makes it so special. I like sitting on Daddy’s lap and watching the smoke float and writhe upward.
To say that the taste is also disappointing would be an understatement. The paper of the hand-rolled cigarette, thin though it is, is tough and refuses to be bitten off. So I’m chewing the tobacco mostly through the paper, with a few tiny strings in my mouth, too small to chew, though I definitely taste them. A horribly harsh taste, somewhere between bitter and woody.
After the initial shock it’s probably a relief that my dad walks in through the sliding doors between the living room and the dining room, sees the cigarette and storms toward me to yank it from my mouth. There’s a bit of a panic until it becomes clear that I’m going to be alright.
Mommy and Daddy needn’t worry–I will never eat another cigarette for as long as I live!