First Experiences

“Experiences are not just what happens to us, they are the raw materials we use in shaping our identities, our self.

Experiences are separate from memories. I view first experiences as remembering a happening when it’s the first time it’s occurred.

It catches my attention somehow. Then it sticks in my mind. This process doesn’t end.

First experiences are ongoing. Right now I’m having a first experience learning how to operate my new smartphone. Also having an experience with a new dentist. Don’t think I’ll forget these.

Some more, a little earlier in life, except for the VR headset:

  • Talking on a cellphone while driving
  • Learning to operate an IBM 6240 (word processor w/magnetic cards)
  • First car accident
  • JFK assassination
  • Smoking my first cigarette as an adult
  • First car
  • The searing pain of losing a family pet
  • First job
  • Meeting my future mother-in-law
  • First yoga experience
  • Wearing a VR headset
  • First glass of wine
  • Wearing a parachute
  • Experiencing the beach the first time
  • Learning to drive a stick shift (hilarious)
  • First mental break
  • First morning of school in 9th Grade
  • Smoking my last cigarette
  • First heartbreak
  • Summer camp

I won’t bore you sharing all these first experiences; I’ll bore you with only five.

Fiddle Faddle

Meeting my future mother-in-law

I start off with this one because it was significant. It is as if I just met her yesterday. People called her Bet. I called her Mrs. Smith for years. I’m guessing a lot of us share this first experience.

Paul and I had been dating for awhile before I met all his family. I had met different ones at different times, but not Bet. It was Christmas Eve.

This was the evening the Smith family always celebrated Christmas together. Bet had Paul and three daughters. She ended up with eight grandchildren.

Naturally, meeting the matriarch of the family made me nervous.

We walked into the kitchen. Bet was standing at the bar sink tending to dinner matters. It was her profile I saw first.

She was wearing a beautiful red knit dress. Bet was lovely, and her white hair suited her so well.

Introductions were made. I gave her a small bouquet of white and red carnations in a green vase.

So now, I’ve met Bet. I hope you have noticed and enjoyed her artwork I sometimes include in these posts. She was quite talented. She was so kind and generous to me. I love her.

At some point after that particular Christmas, I heard carnations were poor peoples’ flowers. I hate having this living in my mind and being unable to erase it.

Where do these kinds of judgments come from?

It saddened me to hear of such a thing. Then I felt my flowers to Bet were inadequate, somehow not enough — but now I know and feel differently. I should have paid no mind in the first place.

Carnations are one of my favorite flowers. I remember so well the gorgeous flower spray on my Nana’s casket — covered with an abundance of soft pink carnations and the white baby’s breath.

So simple. So divine.

First yoga experience

I had been living in Atlanta about a year, I guess, probably around 1980. I thought I’d like to try yoga.

I found a place at the Quaker House. It was in the Emory area.

I don’t remember much about the first class itself. The flooring was indoor/outdoor carpeting. The music just right for what I consider traditional yoga music.

After class is what I remember. The instructor, Martin Pierce, served tea, which I realize now must have been green tea. It had a peculiar taste. It was fine.

We sat on the floor with legs crossed. We were in an adjacent, smaller room. A petite table placed in front of us. A step-stool size wooden table.

Mr. Pierce passed out small white notepads and pencils. We looked like students in a classroom, which we were, sipping tea.

He discussed different poses of yoga — those we had just done and some we would be doing. We sat there and drew stick figures of the positions. This was so cool.

I had quite the little notebook of stick figures by the time I quit going to class. For some idiotic reason, I went on a decluttering binge at some point and tossed my drawings in the trash. Why did I do that?

Oddly enough, I have no idea what kind of yoga I was practicing.

Fiddle Faddle

First glass of wine

Ah, this was nice. A great way to be introduced to the vino.

I had a friend in high school. We weren’t real close but we shared mutual friends. I hung out at her house sometimes. I always liked and admired her. She was tons of fun, and she lived on a lake.

I believe I was in 12th Grade. She invited me to have Thanksgiving with her and her family — her little brother and her parents. Such a kind gesture. Quaint and calm.

Her mother prepared a beautiful table with wonderful food. She served white wine with the meal.

I didn’t know it was wine until I took a drink — you’d think the glass would have been a giveaway. But, after all, this was a first experience, so I’m excused.

That first taste was a surprise for sure. Definitely different. I felt so grown up.

Great experience and thank you, AGG.

Photo – kyls

JFK Assassination

Some of us remember this first experience of a murder of a U.S. president. Unthinkable and absolutely awful. Then followed by the murders of RFK and MLK.

I wonder how this affected me mentally then, all of us really. I remember seeing Jack Ruby jumping out from a crowd and shooting Lee Harvey Oswald in the stomach — on live TV, maybe you do, too. Black and white live TV!

When it happened, my mother told me urgently to wake my dad. He was napping. She was kind of unsettled.

Those were tumultuous days. My mother lived in the hope of what President Kennedy could do for our country. I remember her being sad.

Through her work in the early 60s, she was able to go to a luncheon in Louisville where President Kennedy would be speaking. She was thrilled to have that opportunity.

The only political luncheon I ever attended was a Law Day event. It was sponsored by the local bar association in Tampa.

United States Senator Dale Bumpers of Arkansas was the speaker. Does anyone remember him? — maybe a couple of us.

Some of you reading this weren’t born yet. Perhaps September 11 was your first experience with terror.

When I think long and hard about it, it’s just so unbelievable — flying jets into skyscrapers. That’s a lot of hate there.

When President Kennedy was assassinated, I was in 4th Grade. Our teacher was Mr. Johnson. A lady walked into the classroom and whispered into his ear.

He got up and walked to the TV and turned it on. I guess from that point, Mr. Johnson was teaching history.

Putting on a parachute

I was young and foolhardy. I look back on this in sheer bewilderment. Thank God I lived. Ha!

I was probably 19 or 20. Had met this guy one night out bar hopping.

I do not remember a single thing about him except, evidently, he liked to skydive or it could have been parachuting. I just now learned there is a small difference.

So it turned into the next day. I met him at an airfield somewhere a little north of Tampa, I think.

He was with his buddies who were skydivers. I guess this was a date. I didn’t know any of these people.

So I’m thinking this is nice, a beautiful sunny day. Great day to be watching people jumping out of a plane — from my vantage point safely here on the ground.

And now I’m realizing he wants me to go up with him. I do not know why I agreed to this.

The next thing I know they’re suiting me up. I know I’m not going to jump out of the plane — but they said, “Just to be sure.”

Now that was not a comforting feeling — and yet I still went up. Youth.

The plane was a sight for sore eyes. It was aluminum. It was small and rickety. It looked like it would be a struggle for it to lift off the ground.

We went up. I was seated on the floor. I don’t remember seats being in it. I do remember being scared — Let Me Off! Way too late.

I was sitting right next to the hole in the airplane floor from which the jumpers were flying out. That hole was definitely way too close and way too big for comfort.

This is all that remains of this experience. It’s enough.

Fiddle Faddle

Final thoughts . . .

So we all have many first experiences that shape our lives and the way we think about ourselves and others.

My brief flight in the air showed I could take a risk. Taking that first yoga class showed an interest in spirituality.

Having wine made me realize I was growing up. Meeting Bet offered a special relationship.

I really don’t know how the assassination of President Kennedy affected me or 9/11 for that matter.

I might have thought I wasn’t living in a safe place. Perhaps I couldn’t believe I saw someone murdered on live TV. I can’t see how I could not be troubled at that age by these things.

The important thing is I have survived to this age — my head half-screwed on. Probably a little less for the wear, but experiences helped mold the person I am — the good and the not so good.

Watercolors – kyls

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave a First Experience of your own.

Bet you didn’t know ……
The “sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick” is believed to be the toughest tongue twister in the English language.


  1. Yvonne, I’m continuing to so enjoy your Bruno Papers. In fact, I went back and spent some time catching up on ones you published before I started receiving them. What a read. So well written and I learned more about you that I never knew, particularly what you had going on in your life when we were in high school and what you’ve gone through as an adult. You should be proud of the amazing person you turned out to be!

    1. Hi Anne, you’re way too kind but I certainly appreciate your welcoming comments and thank you for sharing your thoughts. I can always use the support and encouragement. I still can’t believe people will use some of their valuable time to take a few minutes to read the posts. I treasure the memory of spending that Thanksgiving with you and your family. It’s wonderful being back in touch. All my memories of you are great. I know you haven’t lost being that fun self I remember and the specialness that is you. Thank you so much for reading. With much love, Yvonne

      1. Hey Ernst, better be careful what you say. Don’t want these kind words going to my head. Imperative I remain humble and thankful. Life is good now. You are so important to me. ❤️

  2. See, I told you you how well you write, and how you make us want to find the time to read in quiet moments, and then reflect on our past and/or current life.
    Definitely remember JFK assassination, very sad and so enthralling, then and for years to come.
    First and probably last cigarette was with our beloved brother, Bob, my sister and I coughed so bad, we never smoked.
    First alcoholic drink, gin not Boones Farm, from a friend’s mom :), I swear she knew what she was doing, tasted sooooooo bad and there was alot of crying that night (lol, fun to look back on), again that was enough.
    Lois, my first experience with one of the sweetest persons I’ve ever known, she was my best friend from early age and then later in high school. She ran the “Forest Hills Superette” before 7-11’s and I am sure she made every one feel like that. I would stop there almost every day, sit behind the counter and tell her everything, watched everyone from all walks of life come in. My usual thoughts are always “she love me best/most”, not sure what you would call that….. Ego? Lois & Walt knew our parents well, her daughter married my brother.
    THANKS AGAIN FOR SHARING, it helps us me/all (I’m sure)
    Sorry for rambling, that’s your fault LOL – LOVE IT!

    1. Dear Janine, aka Good Buddy, what would I do without you? Last March when I started this blog, it was you who encouraged me. You told me I could write well and people would read it. I can’t believe you were right but you were. I remain indebted to you for your encouragement and support. Thank you.

      You are probably right about the gin about your friend’s mom doing that on purpose — crying so not necessary. HaHa!

      Lois and Walt were lovely people and their daughter is as well. I always bought grape taffy from their store. Did not know about the cigarette with Bob — too funny. Glad it worked out that way.

      Janine, thank you for being a faithful and loyal reader. I always love your comments, so down to earth. Your adventures with hitchhikers still brings a smile to my face. Much ❤️, me

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