This morning I read a blog post by a woman whose childhood memory returns to haunt her in her dreams. It’s kind of ironic really. Ironic in the sense that this first blog that you are reading now is in collaboration with another creative mind. Together, we decided that we would each write on the same topic within the same post, alternating paragraphs until we decide that the topic is complete and coherent. It was determined that I would begin the first paragraph and she would choose the topic. She came up with two options, one of which is playing with childhood memories. So, it’s either ironic or it’s synchronicity playing out in my life so that I can feel inspired to write.
Actually this could be both ironic and synchronicity. Ironic being, “Happening in the opposite way to what is expected, thus typically causing wry amusement.” and synchronicity being, “The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.”. In this case the synchronicity causing the irony perhaps. Writing about this topic could go several direction; playing with memory using a childhood memory as the catalyst to make sense of today or just playing around to have fun with a series of memories. I have a feeling that no matter which direction we start out we will end up in the same place. Possibly our memories of the past are what makes us who we are today.
I’ve always prided myself on having an excellent long-term memory, so it amazes me when I hear someone say that they can’t remember “that far back”. My earliest childhood memory is around the age of one and a half years old. How do I know I am this age? Well, because my sister and I were born eighteen months apart and in the memory, I am the only child in the house. I can vividly recall the layout of the livingroom. Mom and Dad were sitting on the ugly, avocado green couch made of vinyl and I am on the floor playing with a Mickey Mouse phone. When the phone was dialed or a string pulled, (cannot remember which one for sure) the voice of Mickey Mouse or Mickey Mouse friends such as Pluto, Donald duck, etc would speak. I can see across the livingroom into the hallway which seems very scary to me. There is also a gas wall heater built into the wall. I recall dad pretending that a call was coming in by making a fake ringing sound. “Hello? Oh, you want to speak to JarieLyn. Hold on.” Dad handed me the phone and put the earpiece up to my ear and I heard one of the characters talking. I’m not yet two years old so I can’t speak and I don’t know why I remember this, but I recall being really scared when I heard that voice coming through that toy. My mind couldn’t grasp the concept that I was hearing a voice coming through this machine. I thought it was evil and when I looked across the room into that dark hallway, I felt an evil presence lingering there, waiting. Waiting for what, I do not know, but that is my earliest childhood memory or is it really a memory? Maybe it’s just a trick of the mind and I’ve carried that around with me for forty-seven years. Whether it’s a memory or not it is a part of me now. My mother used to tell me that I had a Herman Munster doll that I was terribly afraid of and I would start bawling anytime I heard it talk.
I wonder that what we think is memory of a time is actually a memory of being told about it when we are older. I also can remember being around a year old. I am in my bed which is in the kitchen, there is a curtain hanging down in front of the bed but I can see a person at the sink, in front of them is a bright window. I clearly remember color and light and sound but I don’t know what age I am or who is at the sink. I tell my mother about this memory when I am in my twenties and she says, ” well that must be Kingman, and you were around one. How could you remember that?” Now many years, nearly forty years later is it a memory of the time or just memory of an adult conversation? I now put my grandmother at the sink. Is this something my mother told or do I really remember? If I think about the awareness of the world of a one year old; they are aware of hunger, have feelings of safety or security, and certainly have fear or in the least feelings of uncertainty when confronted with the unknown. By one year old, if a stranger comes in close to kiss our cheek, we will cry knowing this is a stranger. When would the awareness of fear or evil or an unknown presence actually occur? I can definitely remember one of my brothers or sister being brought home from the hospital, but by then I am nearly 5 or six. I remember riding a tricycle to school, this must have been kindergarten. As I pass the age of five, I have many very clear memories and mostly happy ones. Even if in the telling of them I realize they must not be happy times, I still feel myself as being happy within the memory. Do we tend to remember happy feelings for a longer time than unhappy ones?
For most people, I believe that the happy memories and the unhappy ones are equally balanced in shaping who we become. There are exceptions of course, such as someone who is sexually and physically abused consistently. In that scenario I think one would grow up dealing with many issues; trust, being prevalent amongst them. Memories definitely play a major role in our attitudes and our likes and dislikes. For instance, every year I get so excited when it’s nearing Christmas time. I think the reason I welcome the holiday is because I had so much fun as a child. My Christmases were always full of love and warmth and it meant I could spend some time with my grandparents, whom I loved more than anything. Now, as an adult, even though I get excited, I am always disappointed because it just isn’t the same as when my grandparents were still alive. But those are memories that live on in the heart and continue to guide me.