Memories recall positive and negative emotions, but the brain preferentially scans for and reacts to unpleasant moments in our childhood. Even when positive experiences outnumber negative ones, the pile of negative implicit memories naturally grows faster. Why is the brain like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones? In our modern world, it’s the “fight-or-flight”response that activates the brain more often than the “rest-and-digest.” Unlike a computer that keeps an exact file on its hard drive, the brain regenerates each memory and draws stimulating capacities to fill in missing details, without you even knowing. Pocket Candy is a memory of a memory of my father and I when I was five or six. Writing about it fosters positive experiences and wholesome states of mind that aid my brain in building new neural structure, synapse by synapse. As the brain changes, the new memory becomes part of me.
“Caramelo, chupetines, bombón helado,” I spoke to my father, catching him early morning before he went to work in the city.
He smiled at me as he put his coat on. His black straight hair was wet, combed back. “Is that what you want today?”
I nodded. I always asked for more than one thing: candy, lollypops, and chocolate covered ice cream. My eagerness charmed him as I waved my arms in the air, still in my pajamas.
Whenever he went along with my game, he held my arms tight, stretched out. I raised my legs up his body and stretched my neck out for a flip.
“One more step,” he said. “There you go, put your head down. I’m holding you.” His grip was firm and safe. “You got it. Now do the somersault.”
As I let my body go backwards in a twist, I felt the touch of my hair covering my face. I was thrilled as I put my feet down. He let go of my arms and we both laughed.
In the evening, when he was back, I could spot my dad’s mischievous smile. I was determined to get what I wanted. “What did you bring me?” I stood with my arms on the hips. I knew he was hiding something.
He didn’t answer and held his grin while I searched his pockets.
“Is it here?” I moved as fast as I could.
“Hmmm.” He said. “Cold, cold.” I moved to the other pocket.
“Hmmm. Warmer.” He was now laughing.
Then I noticed his palms were closed behind his back.
I put my right hand under my chin with my index finger up. “I know.” I said. ”Let me see your hands.” I demanded.
He opened his right fist fast. “Hot,” He said and spread his fingers of the left hand slowly.
“The hippopotamus.” I jumped up and down. There it was, my chocolate prize. When I saw it, I smiled from ear to ear. Nestle milk chocolate bar, wrapped in a zoo-animal-figure paper sat on his palm. It meant the world to me, even though he didn’t remember to bring what I asked for: Caramelo, chupetines, bombón helado.
[Disclaimer: The stories and pictures in this Blog do not coincide with the women and people depicted in the photographs. Names have been changed to protect their identity. I am solely responsible for the facts gathered and on which the stories and images are based. Nonfiction narrative asserts descriptions understood to be factual and may incorporate fictional elements to clarify and enhance them.]