I don’t have one.
I try. God, I try. I dig deep into the back of the dusty corner of my memory, but I know know not what is real or taken from a picture. It all feels too far removed for me to be sure. Strings I pull at, hoping I tug at *the* one which unlocks something of truth… but mere strings they remain.
I spoke with a good friend of mine once about this. Her earliest memory is not a memory, but someting taken from a photo. Outside of that, she doesn’t remember much else of her childhood. Her counselor suggested this could have been due to repression – a tampering down for the sake of trauma.
Knowing my childhood, I wonder the same.
I reach out to my brother and sister, curiously so. Do they remember? If so, what was their first? We don’t talk all that much these days, and this question they may find strange. I persist.
But before I hear back, I stop myself. There has to be *something*. Even if it took place at the age of, say, 12 — you have some recollection of your childhood. Why not try to write it out?
I remember long days spent on the very flat and large rock next to the spring wash, towels laid out with Jess and Rachel. Uno played for hours under a warm sun. Dips into the wash – chilly from the snowy runoff. Hair slowly drying in the sun as the hours crept leisurely along.
I remember rides with Aaron in his go-cart. A mad man he was, pedal floored as he raced around the rocky and wooded neighborhood, reckless for speed and thrill. I’d hold onto that red roll cage for the life of me, terrified I’d spill out onto the dusty roads. I still have a scar on my right knee as evidence of that having eventually happpened.
I remember sitting on Kimberly’s deck, drinking tea with far too much milk in it, pretending to be regal ladies. Trips inside her dark house to see what her mom had on the telly – often Supermarket Sweeps. Kim’s laughter at my learning that phone was in fact not spelled “fone”.
I remember my first crush, Jacob, and sleeping with his professional, wallet sized karate photo under my pillow for nights on end. I worshipped that photo. Jacob had no idea I existed, I was merely the younger sister of his sister’s best friend. Back then, tho, I could have sworn it was love.
I remember my dad whistling as he drove. All of us in the back, covered bed of his truck, on the carpeted built in that was dangerously unsafe but perfectly acceptable by the 90’s standards. On the radio would be his Jazz CDs, and like a bird he’d whistle their every note. His radar on the dash occasionally beeping in tune.
I remember my mom’s big, wooden, roll top desk. She didn’t use it all that much, there sitting against the window, but I found it magical. Afternoons I’d spend at it, pretending to play secretary. I’d bring out her ledger books and pens, acting as if I could balance them (spoiler alert: I could not).
I struggle to evoke memories that directly involve my mom, For those that I do, I remember the fighting. I remember the perpetuation of harm. I remember after the most heated of arguments, leaving the house with my dad and siblings, all of us saying goodbye to mom. Again. She was leaving this time. Really leaving. She’d be going back to Canada. She’d finally have enough.
But she was always still there when we got back.
I don’t know what of these are my first memories. I know not the starting point of my childhood recollection.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Perhaps, nearing the age of 40, it’s inconsequential in the scheme of things.
I still have yet to hear back from my siblings.
Maybe they don’t remember, either.