5 Year Old Self

The writer John Banville observed, "Memory is imagination, and imagination is memory. I don't think we remember the past, we imagine it." I have vivid memories of my early childhood (I believe they're memories, not imagination), which is why the #5YearOldSelfie challenge on social media caught my eye.

It was a flight of fancy, inspired by a newspaper ad: "Moscow and St. Petersburg, 7 nights with Jules Verne Travel". It sounded exotic, impossible. But this was 1993, Leningrad was St. Petersburg again, Boris Yeltsin was Russian President, Russia was opening up. Glasnost made all things seem possible.

Slept soundly, only waking whenever our train ground to halt and there was no comforting clickety-clack. Guard woke us at 7 AM, leaving the compartment door open. Music blaring from corridor ensured we didn't fall back to sleep. As did serving of hot, sweet tea, in glass tumblers with pewter handles.

I've kept daily diaries and travel journals since my backpacking mid-twenties. When the smoke from the New Year fireworks cleared on the TV this year, I put away my 2018 diary and opened a new one for 2019, my 33rd year of diaries. It got me wondering where and how I'd spent the New Year since 1987.

Unlike my son, born in the era of digital cameras and phones, there are few photos of me from my childhood years, and even less of me as a teenager. I do have one with my mother and two of my brothers, taken on Xmas Day 1976 when I was a surly sixteen-year-old. *Gulp*, my son is sixteen this Xmas!

When I was five-years-old, my parents separated, and my little brother and I moved in to live with our grandparents. While our Nan embraced her two young grandsons with warm grandmotherly arms, our Pop could be standoffish and a little scary, especially when angry with a couple of "naughty boys".

Dahab sits on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, 80 km northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh on the bottom tip, 148 km south of Israel and Jordan, and across the Gulf of Aqaba from Saudi Arabia, whose desert hills are visible from the beachfront on sunrise and sunset.

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