Sunday, August 9, 2009

my first memory

i have a terrible memory. (so it makes sense i am writing a blog about documenting and preserving memories, right?!) family and friends often mention experiences and events in which i also participated, and sometimes my recollections are hazy at best. frequently, even after hints and prompting, i have to say, "i'm sorry, i just don't remember." it is sometimes frustrating for me, and amusing for those who take pity on my poor brain.

sometimes when i look at a picture from my childhood, it seems as if i am remembering that particular event. alas, i think it is more that i have seen the picture often enough that it is the photo i am remembering instead of the event. there is one experience, however, that i do remember, and it has no accompanying pictures. it is my first real memory. i was four years old, and my family traveled to northern california on the train to see my grandmother.

i remember my mother sitting with me next to the window, pointing to things outside as the train sped down the tracks. i remember a garden with lots of green and shade at my grandma's house. the highlight of the trip for me was getting to go to school with her. she taught first grade and it made me feel very important to be a four year old in a class full of 6 year olds. i remember being amazed when i discovered that there was a girl in her class who was also named cindy. i don't remember every single thing about that day (hey, i was only four!) but i do recall getting to fingerpaint with the rest of the class. that was fun! my grandma let me bring the picture home and she had it framed for me, and that picture hung in our house until i was in high school.

it wasn't until i was a junior or senior in high school that i told my mother that my grandmother had framed the picture upside down. it was supposed to be a man wearing a hat and walking down the street. my grandmother framed it so it looked like a potted plant. (remember, i was only four!). in spite of the upside down painting, i greatly enjoyed the trip, especially the visit to school.

even as the finger painted man/flowerpot has become a memory, i hold tight to the joy of a four year old little girl who went to school with her grandma and got to feel special for a day. whenever i see an amtrak train speeding down the tracks i feel the awe of a child watching the world pass by as she sits still. this is how my first memory has remained a part of my life to this day.

what is your first memory?

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