My Earliest Memory
Memories are funny little things. They warp and change with time, become fuzzy and then sharpen in an instant. First memories are even trickier. Memories before I had language feel more like dreams, like movies of someone else’s life. I don’t trust these early memories. I didn’t own the words for the things that surrounded me, so they come off feeling false.
I remember a house and a big wicker chair. I really liked that chair. I think I wanted to sit in it but wasn’t allowed. I remember a dog as large as me, his tongue licking my face, but we never owned a dog. Maybe the dog was really made of wicker. Maybe I licked his face. I remember a big piece of cement in the courtyard, painted yellow with something protruding from the middle. A fire hydrant, perhaps? I would climb on it, feeling tall. It was my playground. I was cold. I lived in Alaska at the time, but didn’t know that then.
I remember Wonder Woman Underoos and a comic book. My brother and I drizzling syrup on it for absolutely no reason. Laughing, feeling naughty and exhilarated, not afraid of punishment. Not afraid of anything, yet. Did it really happen?
I remember a box of laundry detergent falling down the basement stairs, spilling the white soap crystals everywhere. Or did someone tell me that story? Did I create that image out of thin air? Was it something that happened to someone else entirely?
My early memories feel as true as the fiction I create. I don’t trust either one of them, but I’m no less grateful for them. Stories heal and fracture, entertain and help us to understand. We craft our own stories about our lives. Unless you’re a Kardashian and have your every moment recorded, you have to create a sort of fiction for your life, believe whatever you want to about your past.
The past is as pliable as the future, you just have to know what to remember and what is best forgotten.