Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Challenge: Earliest Memory

This is part of the weekly Blogging Challenge over at Long and Short Reviews. If you'd like to participate, you can find the prompts here. They also put up a post every Wednesday where you go and link your response -- and see everyone else's. Check out their homepage to find it.

The challenge for this week is "my earliest memory." 

Memory is a funny thing, not least because it's largely artificial and amazingly untrustworthy. My earliest memory isn't really a memory anymore: it's a memory of a memory. 

Specifically, it's the memory of me coming around the corner of the couch (a corner which was around the same height as my shoulder) at what I thought of at the time as "our old house." But it's not what I'd refer to as a "first-order memory" in that I no longer have the memory itself. It's a second-order memory: I remember it because when I was, I don't know, eight or nine years old, somebody asked me what my earliest memory was. That piece of motion -- coming around the corner of the couch in our old house, with no other context -- was what I remembered. At the time, it was a first-order memory; I actually remembered it. Now it's a second-order memory: I remember remembering it, but the image in my head is a reconstruction of the original.

Our old house had a section of stone floor; that's a first-order memory. A couple of times while we were living there my parents waxed the floor, and we couldn't go into that room until it... dried? Set? Got wiped back down? I'm not sure, but I remember having to walk across these wide wooden boards that were laid over the corner between between the hall that went back to our bedrooms and... I think a little atrium area that had a tree growing up through the middle of it, and out through a skylight. 

I definitely remember that atrium area. 

I remember that the house had eaves that I could somehow climb up to, maybe using the fence. I hung out on top of them a lot, not unlike a feral cat, though at this point I couldn't begin to tell you how often "a lot" was. I know that I was one of those children who climbed on everything but that's also been confirmed by my parents. 

And I know, because I do and don't remember it, that memory is a funny thing.


  1. Yes, memory is a funny thing for sure.

  2. I have to agree memories or shadows thereof are strange things. Thanks for sharing. Here's mine.

  3. Fascinating post, Michael. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Good analysis of what's a memory and a remembrance. Thanks for coming by.

  5. I don't actually have a blog (yet), but the earliest memory that I'm reasonably sure of is seeing our Persian cat crouched over a half-eaten squirrel on the driveway at the back of our house.

  6. I don't believe we ever remember something as it exactly happened. We imprint on it, sure. I also believe we make the memories sometimes what we want from them to fix it. I know my grandfather could holler to beat the band, but I don't remember what it sounded like and I think it's because I don't want to think of him angry. Make sense?

  7. I've definitely got memories that I don't think are really accurate any more. Funny how it works.


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