What is the first memory you have?
It pains me to say that I have no idea the answer to this question. I remembered the grape juice incident of 1991 – but maybe because it’s been talked about so much. I remember swimming in the pool of our townhouse when I was three years old, but is that because I remember the feeling of the water wings around my arms, or the images I’ve seen in captured photographs?
I started ballet classes when I was four. There are a million pictures from classes and recitals. Every once and a while, I’ll stare at the picture long enough to attempt to remember my feet pitter-pattering along the wooden floor, to remember my arms grasping the bars that were just a little too tall.
Sometimes, I feel like I do. But I can never tell if I’m convincing myself that, or if I’m actually remembering those moments as they happened, all those years ago.
I remember “Wheeling Days,” or the local carnival/food fest, a few months after my tu-tu debut, and my dad and I teamed up to win a large stuffed Crayola crayon. I have a fantastic photo from that day, but I remember holding the crayon, feeling so proud.
I remember when my friend threw up on the rug in our kindergarten class during story time, because 21 years later we still laugh about it. But in truth, I do actually remember that moment because I was so worried that I could be slated to the same tragic event at some later time that year. I was five and a half then.
But, that seems crazy to me. Aren’t you supposed to have memories from years earlier than 4? Sometimes I worry that I have so many overwhelming memories just from this last year alone, memories that I’ve been required to recount in explicit detail, in chronologic order, time and time and time again in the last many months. Sometimes I worry that the things I remember are in fact memories I’ve formed as a teenager or an adult, after hearing stories cycled on repeat by my parents and grandparents, after seeing photos of my childhood.
So for now, I’ll just say this. My childhood has been well preserved in stories and photographs and memories for my parents.
Amanda Kasper is a writer, reader, quote lover, CASA advocate, and non-profit believer, seeking space as a lifelong learner, passionate lover, and irreplaceable friend. Amanda tweets at @AKasper513 and blogs over at “& this I believe”