The picture shows a boy lying on a yellow foam matress in the back garden, basking in the sunlight.
When people ask me what my first memory is, I detail this moment. The sun is blinding, I see the light behind my eyelids, I open it to a full, summer sun, I roll to my side to see a yellow foam mattress and a back garden. I guess I am around 4 years old.
I own this moment. It becomes my first self-aware moment on this planet.
While I was in the UK, I left my mother a small, cheap, photo scanner. My mom is scanning in images from my childhood, pictures I don’t have. She is sending them, in true technophic style, 1 per email, in batches of, say, 20 per day. I have tried to suggest ways of sending multiples, ways of compressing, zipping the images, but my mom persists in true parent fashion. One, by one.
Receiving these images makes me re-exam things. She says she is ‘up to my 11th birthday party at McDonalds’ right now. I am being presented my life, in frozen moments, slivers of my childhood.
Was my mother there, capturing my very first memory? At that precise moment that my brain processes a moment, logs it in my long-term part of my head, frames the scene for me, preserves it, she is standing near me, a click of the shutter. Perhaps it was the shutter sound that allows me to mentally frame the moment. Or perhaps it is something else, perhaps my first memory is not a memory…perhaps I am just remembering seeing the photos of that afternoon, and I am reconstructing a moment that I no longer posses. That I am taking a series of frozen slivers and I am mentally animating them, a flip-book moment come to life inside me.
I was reading about memories…more recent research suggests we consistently restructure, re-frame and organize memories…we add narratives, fill in gaps, present them for ourselves…especially early memories…we have false memories, hazy recollections, narrative moments that may or may not have happened.
I realize my blog is an attempt to reconstruct, rebuild, preserve, archive, organize these shifting sands. I am not sure who it is for, or why. I cannot be sure how much of what I write is true, reliable, factual.
Receiving these images may perhaps rewrite some memories, re-frame others…it is impossible to say.
It strikes me that I am mid-way through my narrative arc on this earth. My snapshot blink life is, statistically, over half-way. This sliver moment. I cradled my cat this evening, and I realized that her equivalent life span is framed in time as mine is now. Her snapshot resembles mine, fleetingly, her lifespan is passing mine…rushing past, middle aged, on the balancing point of that see saw. I have known her since she was 8 weeks old.
2am. Time to rest. Tomorrow, the sands shift a little further.