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The Earliest Memory

I’ve always been fascinated with memories, and try to do whatever possible to remember things that have happened in my life.

Not to toot my own horn too much, but I sometimes think that my memory is better than most others, as I can often just close my eyes and picture things I’ve experienced in great detail. At times I’m sure my ability to remember such minute details as the color/details of someone’s shirt they were wearing or where they were sitting while hanging out one time–ages ago might seem a little weird or creep people out, but I hope that my ability to remember things so clearly won’t fade as I get older.

A couple of years ago, something triggered what is possibly my earliest memory, and after asking my mom to verify details I was shocked that what I thought might have been something I’d only dreamed was an event that actually happened when I was very young… about 18 months old.

The memory was probably a little traumatic, which is why it stands out more than other childhood memories, and isn’t a story that my mom often shared about the trials she experienced while my brother and I were very young (he was often a handful and committed such transgressions as knocking over the aquarium, tying me up with typewriter ribbon, and emptying out all of the kitchen cabinets as soon as my mom’s back was turned).

In this early memory, he was trying to convince one of my cousins and me to climb into his toy box (which happened to be shaped like Oscar the Grouch’s trash can) and go for a “ride” down the back stairs at our house. (The house we lived in at the time was a Victorian, fully equipped with main “grand staircase” and a back kitchen/servants’ staircase that was pretty steep.) Luckily my mom was alerted to his devious plan before either my cousin or I could climb in and go for the dangerous ride, and I think he was sentenced to cleaning up all of the toys that he had dumped down the steep stairs, followed by a timeout I’m sure.

What shocked my mom when telling her about that incident and what I remembered as an adult was that I mentioned exactly the outfits my cousin and I were wearing that day, and described the pattern of the carpet on those stairs. Sure, I could have picked up those details from listening to other stories or looking at pictures of the old house, but my mom said she didn’t remember mentioning what Shauna and I were wearing that day.

Sometimes it’s strange the things we remember, or just inherently know, like my feeling that I was a twin before anyone ever told me, but I’m thankful every single day that I’m able to remember things with such clarity and detail.

Have you ever stumbled onto an early memory that stopped you in your tracks or seemed unreal?

Responses (2)

  1. You do have a good memory! I have a few early childhood memories: 1. A vivid memory of being at Grandma Myrtle and Grandaddy’s house. I do not remember why I was there, but I remember being really sleepy and holding Grandaddy’s hand as I slept.

  2. […] something I’d like to learn how to do successfully. I’ve always prided myself on having a good memory, but with mastery of “method of loci,” I think I’d be […]

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