my parents split when i was 5. i don't remember much of before i was 5 except a few hefty duty fights, and i do remember my room. i remember our oscar fish (look it up, it's a damn ugly fish) committing suicide by jumping out of its tank in the living room and flopping into the kitchen and dying on the linoleum before we got home. he had done this before but we had been able to rescue him before death. i remember my mom telling me when there wasn't a santa claus because we were poor and she didn't want me to think that when i didn't get the appropriate amount of gifts that i would think i had been bad (although there was that little bag of coal in my stocking every year. ... some jokes never wear thin.) i remember learning to ride a bike without training wheels (they put me on a 10-speed and pushed me down a hill) and i remember my dad leaving on my birthday and taking the coffee table so we had my cake on a cardboard box.
but after the split i only remember certain things about being at my dad's house. they are all good memories and i relive them sometimes.
-- wrestling. i hate wrestling, but when i was over, dad and i would watch it and mimic their moves in the living room. they wrestled, we wrestled. i think i won a few more times than necessary, and i think my dad body slammed me more than neccessary (but it was great fun).
--swanson's chicken and dumplings. dad couldn't cook, really, so everytime i went to his house and stayed for lunch or dinner he brought out the can of swanson's. i haven't had this as an adult so i don't know if it's any good, but it was dern tasty at dad's house. if i was there for breakfast we had ...
--eggs over easy and limp bacon. he liked the meat part of the bacon cooked and the fat limp and uncooked. i can't eat it that way now, but it was good there.
--denorex shampoo. in college i started getting anxiety attacks that started with a bad case of ecsema (sp? anyone?) and would scratch my scalp raw and even a little sticky. so i got some denorex and i was seriously transported back to childhood. my dad used denorex almost exclusively, and when i spent the night i would have to use that smelly dark brown shampoo too. good times.
atari-- dad had one of the ones that had a white ball you rolled around instead of a regular controller, and we'd play pong and snake for hours and hours and hours and hours ... well, you get the drift.
--wide brimmed straw hats and cheap plastic sunglasses. my dad is a surveyor for the city, so he wears these ugly straw hats and sunglasses. when i was little he'd always leave them on the passenger seat and i'd invariably sit on one or the other, ruining it. there's a guy who comes in to OD regularly who wears the same straw hat and the same uniform (white polo shirt with the city seal and khakis) and i get a little homesick everytime i see him. the first time i gushed at great length about how he looked like my dad, but he really doesn't. he just walks the same and wears the same clothes.
--buttered noodles. this one is from before the divorce, but i attach it to my dad so i'm including it too. dad was on a bowling league when i was real small, and every thursday night we would go there while he bowled and then we'd have dinner at the little restaraunt there. i was a picky little shit and i wouldn't eat anything on the menu so the cook took pity on me and would make me buttered egg noodles for dinner. i completely forgot about this until college when i picked up a bag of no-egg egg noodles for beef stroganoff and had a bowl of buttered noodles and freaked out when i remembered. for a week after i ate nothing but egg noodles for dinner.
i think that's all the memories i have of my dad in connection with my childhood. i've used many of those memories in poems and short stories ... so they're copywrited. hehe. i began an actual relationship with him in '96 when everything came out about my stepfather's sexual abuse.