Can you recall your earliest memory?

Some time ago I read something or watched a film where someone talked about his/her first memory. I wish I remembered where I read or saw that, but the important thing is that ever since that moment I have been trying to remember my earliest memory, something that I never really cared to think about.

You see, my memory is very puzzling because sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s awful. A good friend of mine says that I have a selective memory (maybe it’s a human thing), and I think that it’s an extremely accurate description. I remember, for example, that my mother took me to an ice cream place when I was six years old in order to tell me that my father was never coming back from his work trip. I remember vividly the taste of the strawberry ice cream with white chocolate chips, and the blue shinny letters on the top of the ice cream store in the first floor of Las Trinitarias, the newest mall in town. I remember getting mad at her, blaming her for news that probably made her sad too. I also remember the first time I touched the dog of my childhood’s best friend, Geovanna. The name of the dog was “muñeca” – doll – and she was famous for her aggressiveness and for the couple of times she had bitten people in the neighborhood, including my friend.

I hated when Geovanna invited me to sleepovers at her place because every time that I went to her house I lived in terror. The dog was locked in the garage during my visits, but at night they would let muñeca come into the house, and she would walk around every room, probably – like a dementor – fed by my fear. I would pretend to sleep, but I couldn’t rest thinking that the dog would take advantage of my sleep to jump on the bed an eat me. I was definitely overreacting, but I was also a child.

One day, after one of those sleepovers, my friend asked me to walk the dog with her. During our walk she told me that she thought “muñeca” was ready to let me touch her. As I approached my hand to the dog, I noticed that the streets were empty, and I remember thinking that if the dog attacked me no one would be able to save me. There were no witnesses and my friend was too small to do much, I thought. Now that I think about it, the streets were probably empty because everyone was so afraid of that dog. Anyways, I touched its red soft hair and, to my surprise, nothing happened. The dog kept minding her own business and I, I had survived.

I have a horrible time remembering my sisters’ ages and birthdays, but I remember that when Diana was born she weighed 3100Kg. Nathalie is extremely talented at painting, even though she hasn’t quite realized it, Cinthia’s first conversation with her current husband started when she asked him – after a long deliberation with herself – what his Zodiac sign was (I know, funny conversation starter)… and Natasha, who once had the reputation of not sharing her toys, always shared everything with me, and is one of the purest and nicest persons that I know.

Trying to recall my earliest memory got me thinking about manganite, the sensation of a snail or a millipede walking on the palm of my hand, the ashes falling from the sky every time that sugar cane was burnt near my house, the uncountable times that I poured my smoothies out the window because I didn’t want to drink them, the first time I kissed a boy (and how disgusting I thought the idea of kissing was), or even the smell of lemon and fresh green tea that still reminds me of my grandmother. But what about my earliest memory?

It took me almost six months to decide to learn my new phone number in the US, but I still remember the phone number of my house in Barquisimeto, where I lived until I was 9 years old. I also remember that when I was eight years old I came to school and my teacher told me, literally: “I can see you fought with your hairbrush, and I’m afraid to say that the hairbrush won.” You see… my mother has always had short hair and was never used to fix it, my hair -on the other hand- was long, and due to my mother’s inexperience my childhood had plenty of “bad hair days.”

Regardless of how much I dig, I can’t find my earliest memory, and the more I try the more I seem to realize how much “remembering” is an act of reconstruction. At the end of the day I don’t know to what extent all these memories are accurate, or if I’ve just made them up. It doesn’t really matter because I feel what Heinrich Schliemann must have felt when he discovered Troy. If he ever did…

… I might have also discovered why I tend to dislike strawberry ice cream.

How about you, my friend? Can you recall your earliest memory?

Marcela C.


One thought on “Can you recall your earliest memory?

  1. celebrationdash says:

    Your words flow with such grace and beauty. I love the way you describe your memories, especially in paragraph 4 – I felt transported from my cubicle to the very moments you were describing and although I (obviously) was not there experiencing the sensations that you felt at the time, my imagination was tickled and seemed to come to life – something that has become somewhat of a rarity.

    Thank you for this beautiful post. And to share, my earliest memory is of looking up through ocean waters after a wave had crashed on top of me. I don’t really remember the moment I became submerged, but I remember the fragmented light I saw when looking up at the sky while underwater.

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