Friday, April 3, 2009

I remember

Well, kind of. When I was a little kid, probably right before my third birthday or just a little after it, I woke up one morning and could remember nothing. Well, kind of. I knew I was in my house, I knew who the members of my family were but I did not remember the days that had come before. I did not remember what foods I had eaten, playing with toys, interacting with people. Not even as recently as the night before. I knew the nouns of my life, but none of the verbs. I remember getting out of bed and walking down the hall that day. I felt like I was in a daze and I was so very confused. As I walked into the kitchen I recall looking up at my mother and I must have had an odd look on my face because she looked at me like I was acting strange. To this day I still have no idea why I forgot what happened before. I don't remember any pain that would suggest I'd hit my head or anything... But that morning, for the space of about 10 minutes, I remember everything in crystal clear detail. My thoughts, my feelings, my home, my mother. After 27 years, I have not forgotten that morning.

Up until I was about 10 or 11 I occasionally had the wild idea that maybe I was adopted or stolen. That there had been some trauma that caused me to lose my memories. If nothing else it explained to me why I was blond when everyone else in my family had very dark brown hair (I didn't know at the time that my mother was a blond child, too). I grew out of that but I still often wonder about it. Was that the day I truly became self aware? I don't know. Perhaps that was when I grew into using my long term memory. They say that children generally reach this point at around 1 but perhaps I was a late bloomer.

So in my earliest memories, I'm 3. I remember walking on a beach after playing in tide pools. I licked my dry lips and tasted salt. I had never tasted anything like it so I ran to my mother who was at the edge of the water with my little sister. I told her that my lips tasted funny and she explained about salt from the sea.

I remember taking the picture above with my father. I remember my mother telling me to go stand with daddy and I recall him being behind me as it was taken. The memory is so vivid, it's like I can almost feel him there behind me every time I think of this. Lots of my earliest memories are like that. What I remember the most is feelings, thoughts, and tastes. The pictures of most of them are a little fuzzy now, like a photograph with dream-sequenced edges. Only the centers of the visuals come to me now but the emotions and sensory pieces haven't faded.

I have 3 children now and I'm curious what their earliest memories will be. My youngest is now 5 so they've probably already had the experiences. I'll have to ask them in 5 or 10 years.

What is your earliest memory? Do you see the images or do the other senses come first?


  1. I "remember" all kinds of things from very early but I don't know if they are really real.

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Great post!

  3. my earliest memory is my great grandmother's funeral though I didn't know what it was at the time. I told my mom about my memory (standing on the back seat of a chair, looking out the window at a large oak tree and a lot of people standing around) and told me it was the funeral. weird, huh?


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