Friday, January 9, 2015

Early Memories

One of my earliest memories is a snippet of a moment. A single snapshot of random life. Held in my memory as just still frame. But seen from my perspective, and real enough that I know it wasn't a picture I later saw somewhere, but something seen with my own eyes.

I couldn't have been more than 3. I was standing, in the kitchen. I can almost feel the red and brown squares of the linoleum beneath my bare feet. The yellow-greenish color of the oven in front of me. Staring up at the brown cabinets. The skinny cabinet, just to the left of the oven was open. I remember, clearly, the jars of baby food lined up neatly on the bottom two shelves of the cabinet, so high above me. They were green and yellow, tiny jars. The round glass ones, with metal lids.

And that's it.

There's no sound or smell associated with it. No feelings at all, other than curiosity about the jars. I was just there, looking.

I wonder, though... what was it about that moment that embedded itself so strongly in my memory? Why is it 30-something years later I remember it so clearly? Why has my mind held on to that, when it's forgotten so many other (much more useful!) things?

And that leads me to wonder... what are the first memories my kids will have? Will it be something big and exciting? Will it be something frightening? Will it be a quiet, loving moment with me (oh, how I wish it to be this!)? Or will it be a random moment of the mundane?

Right now, E says he remembers when he was in heaven before he was born (a conclusion he came to all on his own; we've never told him that's where babies are before they're born). He says he remembers "just a'waitin'". It's an interesting thing. But I wonder if he will hold on to this, or something else will replace it.

The kid, well, he just starts to make up fanciful stories about his first memories when asked (i.e. after he heard what E said, he just expanded on that). So I'm not really sure what it truly is. Likely, neither is he.

But, seeing as how I never talked about this particular memory until a few years ago (and not for any particular reason, other than it never came up), it seems plausible that they may not even realize right now what their earliest memories are.

So I'm curious... what are your earliest memories? Also, do you think there's a reason why those particular things have stuck with you?

Today's Lesson: The mind, and memories, are tricky things. We never know exactly what they'll hold on to, or why. Sometimes the things we most want to remember (a particular look of a loved one... a fact for an important test... our babies' first words) seem to be lost. While the seemingly unimportant (where baby food was stored when we were toddlers) remains.


Anonymous said...

My earliest memory is firmly etched in my mind, but I didn't know until many years later that it was in fact my earliest; I had always thought I was 4-5 when it happened, but then one year we were looking through pictures, and I realized I was actually 2-3.

I was taking a bath one night, when my mom rushed in, swooped me up, wrapped me in a towel, and took me downstairs and outside. A mile distant (but going parallel to us so it wasn't a danger) a tornado had just touched down, and she wanted me to see it. I remember the strangeness of the interruption of the bath and how fascinating the tornado looked. So it's no wonder that this memory stayed with me, I just had no idea how young I was when it happened until I was an adult!

Rachel said...

My earliest memory is standing on the spare bed in my grandma's house (the house I have now) in a green velvet dress with lace trim and white socks with buckles. I don't know why I was on the bed but I was most likely preparing to jump on it. I don't remember much else or why that was such an important memory. Interesting what we remember, eh?

Anonymous said...

My first memory is like most of my early memories...violent. My grandmother is scolding me for liking the "PJ" doll instead of Barbie...telling me I'm not normal and that's bad...she's very angry with me and throws me over the side of the deck into the rocks. I'm 3.

Anonymous said...

I am 69, and my first memories seem to swirl around some kind of trauma. I lived with my family in ne south dakota on a small farm.
Draft horses were used to pull hay into the barn. My sister, 11 months younger than me (3) her (2) got too close to the horse and it stepped on her foot and split it....I remember the red water. Parents had put sisters leg in a bucket of water to clean the foot.

I always remember my mom freaking out, (we are on that same farm in s.dak.) and she stepped on a mouse in the granary!!...
I remember hiding under that granary to try to catch some ducks, my parents were looking for me and I didn't want to come out..(it must have been cool under there)...In later life, teen-age, my mom told me one of the first places she looked was the stock water tank, to see if I had drowned in it.