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16/01/2012 / melgardener

Memories

I’m a sucker for a good “memory” story and love nothing more than listening to someone reminisce, particularly if the tale relates to a time before I knew the storyteller. I feel as though I’m being welcomed into a hidden part of their world and I always discover something new and exciting about the person, even if I know them well.

I’m particularly interested in early memories and how some people can have such clear recollections of times when they were very young. My own early memories are less film-reel clear and more a hazy, ethereal jumble of images which may or may not relate to a single moment in time.

I have extremely patchy memories of my brother arriving when I was two years old and I can vaguely picture my mother holding a small bundle. I can clearly visualise the outside of the house we lived in at that time but, try as I might, I cannot recall any sense of the interior.

Many of my memories tend to be more a recollection of a certain feeling rather than a particular visual image. I remember being very scared about a large dog barking at me from behind a fence one day when we were out for a walk – I would have been around four years old. I don’t remember anything about what the dog looked like or where we were but, even today, I can hear its bark and remember all too clearly the shock of that sudden, loud noise ringing in my ears.

My memories are also tainted with other information and supplemented with photos or stories told by various family members. My father has a particular story he likes to tell about my first day of school and I’ve now heard this tale so many times (and I’m sure it’s become embellished over time) that I’m not sure how much is my own memory and how much has been absorbed via listening to the story over and over again.

Some of my friends can recall the name of every teacher they had through primary and high school. I can tell you with absolute assurance that I loved school, particularly early primary school, but the names of my teachers have not stayed with me.

I’m also aware that some of my memories are tarnished with a child’s viewpoint which is at odds with my adult understanding of the world. And, as I grow further from my childhood memories, I’m aware that the simple passage of time will steal details and fuzzy the edges to make it harder for me to distinguish dates, times and places.

What’s your earliest memory? Are your early memories crystal-clear? Or, like me, are they a bit fuzzy around the edges?

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