My parents moved to Rome in 1975, settled in a small apartment, dad started doing his art and my mom began learning Italian. My older sister went to a daycare of sorts run by nuns, when a child got whooping cough they lined up the whole class, made everyone hug and kiss the sick child and sent them all home to their families....and that is how I caught whooping cough at 6 months and very nearly died. Apparently they believed childhood disease's eventually infect everyone so why not get it all over with at once.
When I was 1 year old I was sent to this same school with my older sister and when I cried to be with her I was locked in a small cabinet until I stopped. I quickly developed a fear of the dark and remember working very hard to be brave every time I had to let go of my sisters hand at school. Sometimes my little 1 year old will won...other times tears came streaming down my face and I knew I'd have to go to the box. At a year and a half we went on a field trip to the zoo, this was an old style zoo where all the animals are in cages, very sad for the animals. It was getting dark and being so little I couldn't keep up with everyone when it was time to go. The nuns hurried all the children out and I saw the zoo keeper locking the big iron gates from the outside...that's when I realized I'd just been locked inside all by myself and at was dark. I ran to the gate and remember how cold the iron bars felt, I cried for everyone to come back, called my sisters name....nothing. All the animals were making a lot of noise, I remember thinking I needed to sit down somewhere safe, for some weird reason I picked the lion cage...he seemed the scariest of all with his loud roars so until this day I don't know why I plunked my little bottom down right in front his space....but I did. I stopped crying.
I felt like I sat there forever but it was probably only a couple of minutes before the zoo keeper unlocked the gates, he was talking and laughing with the nuns, my sister came running over to me bawling, she hugged me, told me she'd begged them not to do it and they had kept her from answering me. That night my older sister, all of 3 years old, told our parents everything that had happened at the zoo and that they'd been locking me in a closet.....and this is important .....I will always remember this....because it's the one time my parents rescued me....they got me out of that school.
Later, at the age of 5, I got tiered of being afraid of the dark. So at night I would sneak outside...walk as far as I dared to from my house and sit down on the grass and make peace with the night. I did this almost every evening for almost a month until I realized I was looking forward to my night excursion....and it hit me....I wasn't afraid anymore.