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What’s your earliest memory?

Published 2010-08-10

Orion is demonstrating a pretty remarkable memory these days. He’ll recall events of several months ago in detail, for example, or remember offhand comments about future events (“maybe Friday we go to beach?” “Geez, did we really promise that?”). Interestingly, when he talks about past events they always happened “yesterday,” but he uses random day names for future events.

Which leads me to realize Orion is entering the age when he starts to Remember. Last summer when he got stung by a bee: when he’s fifteen, that will never have happened. When he fell off his bike yesterday: he might be working that out with his therapist in 2040.

What was my First Memory? I guess it depends on what you mean by “memory.”

I very clearly remember seeing Star Wars in 1977 (at age five). That’s my earliest unequivocal memory of a distinct and singular event.

I remember several of the toys at my preschool (ages 3 to 4). I also remember making peanut butter at preschool. These are probably amalgam memories.

I remember playing “doctor” with an older neighbor girl. Actually we were playing “house” but it was really a variation of the stereotypical “doctor” game. We took turns watching each other pee in a bucket. This was probably before Kindergarten (again, age 3 or 4). (I also remember playing literal “doctor” with other neighbor girls, sometimes with the expected implications and sometimes without. But this was at older ages: kindergarten or first grade.)

I remember falling in a river in Wyoming while my parents fished. Actually I don’t remember falling in the river, I remember sitting in the front seat of our ’68 Barracuda with the heat on full blast and drinking coffee with lots of sugar and cream. I don’t know what age this would have been, probably preschool as well.

I have an impression of riding on a commercial airplane with my mother. I sat on the floor and played with my Fisher Price zoo animals. The only commercial airplane flight I took before college was from Scottsbluff to Lincoln Nebraska for the occasion of my grandfather’s funeral, in 1974 (at age 2).

I have another impression of entering the front room of a house similar in layout to my maternal grandmother's, and several grownups were seated way above eye level around the room. My impression was they were gathered. This may be a memory from the same trip: the grownups were gathered for the funeral. My parents tell me the house they lived in before 1973 had a similar layout to my grandmother’s, so this might be an earlier memory of some other event, perhaps my brother’s baptism?

What’s your earliest memory?