WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY?

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[I’ve been thinking lately about memory and what it tells us about who we were and are. There may be more of this, perhaps much more, in the coming year’s posts.  In the meanwhile, here’s a short and easy one. Maybe it will get you thinking, too….]

My very earliest memory — without  help from fading photographs or anything my parents told me — goes back to the summer I was two.  I was playing with a large ball in a sunny room that was empty. We were away from home, probably at some resort in the Catskills.  [My mother is not in the memory; she must have been somewhere behind me, talking to other women.  The room may have been a sunroom of some kind, or perhaps left empty for dancing in the evening.]  The ball got away from me and rolled into a corner of the room diagonally opposite. I watched it roll away without going after it. It didn’t even occur to me I should do that. Instead, I stood my ground and called out to the ball:  “Ball, come here!”  The women with my mother may have laughed gently when they heard this. But I don’t remember that. Only that the ball didn’t come.

Perhaps I remember this large ball defying me so long ago because it was my first experience of the world not complying with my wishes.

But what the memory tells me now is that in certain essential ways I haven’t changed in the many years since then:

  • I am lazy.
  • I am controlling. (Not always successfully.)
  • I believe in the power of words.

What’s your earliest memory?  And what do you make of it now that you are wise?

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19 thoughts on “WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY?

  1. I remember being held and rocked by a very old woman with a cushiony soft bosom. My great-grandmother was 80, I think, when I was born. Many years ago I asked my mother if that could be who I remember. She said no, because Meme died when I was still a baby – my mother didn’t see how I could have any memory of her. But I think it was.

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    • If you could already distinguish faces sufficiently to differentiate between not-very-old and very-old, you were probably no longer a baby. How old do you think you were, and who else could it have been with the cushiony soft bosom? I won’t ask any more questions, although one certainly does lead to another. 🙂 I leave that to you!

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  2. I have small clips of memories that don’t make much sense to me like wearing a favorite dress, playing in a huge sand pile in my underwear and our puppy pooping on me. This didn’t happen at the same time but I can’t connect to a time or age. It just hangs out there without the bites around it to make any sense.

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    • Except for the puppy poop it sounds like a happy babyhood/childhood. [I could also be flippant and say the poop explains your great fondness for cats….but I won’t. 🙂 ] Anyway, thanks for answering the question. Maybe more will come to you later — not necessarily in contemporaneous bites, but in relevance to who you are — that will explain to you why you retain these particular memories, when so many others from the past are lost….

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  3. I have no memory before age four! I am walking down this long sidewalk to school in Junction City, KS. My mom is behind me making sure I am staying on the straight and narrow! Funny how we think about things. Isn’t it?
    In regards to memories, I actually keep 2 boxes full of memories that touched me throughout my life. For example, a cute card, a letter, a photo, or even a memento of some sort. One of the things I am doing on my blog is starting a series on letters written by a German war bride. These letters were shared by the daughter for me to post on my blog. I can not wait to see the response and I am hoping my anonymous friend will see the import of those letters for their historical significance. I think she does and will eventually utilize my posts for a book she could write. Come by and visit the site when you can to see what you think. I began my blog writing about history so I am coming around to my initial writings by adding this series into the mix. https://alesiablogs.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/misguided-views-and-attitudes-the-german-war-bride/

    As always I love to read your writings and you are absolutely right–good writing is damn hard!!!!!

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    • Did you like to walk in the street? Do you suppose that’s why your mom was making sure you stayed on the sidewalk? Next question: Are you still a risk-taker (or simply negligent) today? Or the very opposite? Might that be why this particular memory remained with you?

      I think it’s wonderful that you’ve kept two boxes-ful of what has been significant to you in your life. (Believe it or not, I have half a basement-ful! I do tend to overdo.) And I’m very glad you enjoy reading TGOB, mixed bag of stuff though it is.

      However, about your German “war bride” series, I’m the wrong person to ask. I did click the link and read your post. But I identify as Jewish (although I am not religious), am too old, and know too much about that war, to enjoy a series of posts about the emotions of a German soldier’s wife in 1944. I don’t doubt that brides everywhere suffer deeply when their young husbands go off to fight, perhaps never to return. But when your bride writes of “our great Germany” it’s not Angela Merkel’s Germany she’s writing about, and I would prefer not to read more. Perhaps younger people will feel differently. You must by all means go on with what seems an important project to you. There’s perhaps also a wonderful series of posts to be done about what a people know, and at the same time try not to know. (The CIA and hideous torture being a current example.) But that, of course, is not your series….

      And do keep writing, Alesia. When you’ve finished the German bride posts, maybe you should explore for us what’s in your two boxes? 🙂

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      • Hey There,
        Good questions! Honestly, I do not think I was a risk taker. I am a nurse by profession and I can say I was always about being cautious and doing the “right” thing. I asked my mom how long was the sidewalk as it seemed very long to me, but she said we could see the school so it must not have been that far away! She just wanted to make sure I went straight into the building. haha It is funny how something small is remembered as being big in the eyes of a child.
        In regards to the German posts–you might find this interesting. My father was 100% Jewish. My mother was 50% Swiss and 50%German. So I really get what you are saying to me about the letters, but I find the history behind them more important and I suppose the emotions I have left out in my own mind. I see this woman as being deceived. She was a young woman with no real idea until after the war. My own family said they knew nothing of the gas chambers until decades later. We now live in the information age and life is so different. Germany has completely recovered and become a symbol for great business minds and good government as far as I am concerned as you mention Angela Merkel’s work.
        I really appreciate what you say and I will continue on with my other posts as different times and share from those old boxes of memory. I have done a lot of that all ready on my blog although this year has been a hard year and I have not written as much as I would have liked to. As I think you said one time—it is hard to write and damn good writing takes time. I absolutely love your blog and always go check yours out when I see you have a new post up…You have a way with words. OH those words –they are so important…Aren’t they? My best to for the New Year.

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      • By all means, if you would like to and you have time. I should warn you I’m not much of a correspondent these days. TGOB has stolen me away. But I should love to read whatever you feel like writing. Perhaps your email will serve as a draft for a post on alesiablogs!

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    • My memory is actually quite iffy. Sometimes I momentarily get the names of my children and grandchildren mixed up! But generally speaking, it’s my theory that without external aids like notes, diaries and photos, we only retain memories, including very early ones, that have some deep emotional or psychological significance for us. (If they’re too painful, we do repress them, but they continue to lurk underground waiting to be uncovered through therapy or hypnosis.) I have one other memory of that early summer: sitting on a very large rock in the sun, with my mother and some other ladies at the foot of the rock. She must have lifted me up, she would take me down later on, but not yet, and I remember feeling very warm, happy and secure. However, there’s a photograph of me on this rock, too — so I don’t know how much is true memory and how much a vague memory sensation augmented by the photo. The memory of the ball is pure memory….

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