Saturday, May 17, 2014
Memories in the Fog
My parents have a few stories to share of my infancy and toddler years, and I've always found them interesting. I was somewhat of a paradoxical baby, apparently. I was shy, but smiled a lot. I used any excuse to laugh, but also to cry. I preferred to sit all day on my mother's lap, but was adventurous too, mainly because I was borrowing from my twin sister's intrepid spirit (she spends her weekends scaling tall mountains to this day). Your aunt was technically the "younger twin," but she was bigger and bolder than me and I faithfully followed her into whatever calamity she might take us. She always lead by example, convincing me that roaches were tasty or that scorpions were good playmates or that a better place for food was on top of our heads instead of in our mouths. She was the first to climb atop furniture, and I was the first to fall off, usually face first.
I'm told I wasn't a very bratty, although there was one occasion when we were all out at a restaurant and upon tasting the most delicious thing that had ever touched my mouth, your grandparents made the mistake of telling me what this food was called. I was shrieking for "more pie!" the rest of the night, even while my father hauled me out the door and into the parking lot.
I always found it odd that I couldn't actually remember any of these incidents, but that's simply the way the young mind works. For reasons that are not entirely known, babies and toddlers are capable of creating and storing memories in their brains--- and they do--- but those memories are obscured when the mind gets older. Its these early years that serve as the foundation of the people we become, the core of who we are. Yet ironically, all we have left of our earliest years once we BECOME those people is a few stories from our parents.
I'm a bit sad that my years as an infant aren't as thoroughly available to me as the memories of the rest of my life, even if our memories are ultimately just stories inside our heads anyway. Still, even with just a few pieces of the puzzle, I can see so clearly glints of the person that I would become. How interesting it would have been to know in greater detail and with some chronology all of those early memories that were lost. Like most people, my babyhood is a giant mish mash of oral history, and like all oral histories, the stories change each time they are told. It's for this reason I want to keep writing you letters, even though you've left the NICU. Enough letters so that once you are old, you can fill up that vast expanse of space in your past that is so often missing for others.