Thursday, November 29, 2007

Earliest Memory Meme

Cross posted at Inside A Dog

Tagged by Meli, who stole it from Jabberwocky, who got it from Eleanor Bloom, who was tagged by...well, I guess I have to stop somewhere. But I do love to write the name Eleanor Bloom. Thanks Meli, I loved reading yours and I loved doing this.

My very earliest memory is one that is more sensation and sound. I am in my cot, facing the wall. There's a party going on. The door has opened and my mother and some other people are peering in at me. I am somewhere between being awake and asleep. I recall, though I don't know if this part is invented, not wanting to be picked up and held. When I first told my mother this was my earliest memory, she was astonished. It was November 1975, my dad's 50th birthday party. Kerr had just sacked the Whitlam government. I was ten months old.

Needless to say, following that precedent I have a lot of very clear and potent memories of early childhood. I remember creche well. I have a very clear memory of sitting under (the director) Wendy's desk with Hannah Smith and taking off my shoes, which is funny because I also remember getting into trouble for not knowing where my shoes were! I remember turning up to creche one day to find out we were going to Mt Wellington and Mum hadn't brought my snow gear. She drove home to get it. I remember catching the train (one of the last passenger trains in Hobart) to the deer park in Ross, again with the creche. I remember Delphine's mum teaching a few of us French phrases, while holding her baby boy Pierre-Yves (who I called Prayer Eve). I remember hiding our baskets one year for the Easter Bunny and all the carers saying they saw Easter Bunny's ears at the window and I saw them too (only I know I didn't really), and then I couldn't find my basket because I was scatty and forgetful as a child, but I found it eventually in the tunnel. Everyone saw Easter Bunny tracks and I said I could see them too, but I couldn't and I worried why I couldn't when everyone else could. I remember Hannah Smith and I taking Francie Evans out the front gate and down the road on our way to Disneyland and the carers stopping us and persuading us over the fence to come back (I can't believe we strode out the front door of a creche! Wouldn't happen now without a Royal Commission being called). I remember going to Francie Evan's pool party and she had a doll that you could feed who wet her nappy and I wanted one so badly. I remember as a three year old hanging nostalgically over the half door to the baby's room and wishing I could be a baby again.

I will stop now, though there's more. But I don't want to be tedious.

It's funny watching my kids memories being made. Before she was three Fred had an astonishing memory for people, her memory was indiscriminate. She remembered kids she had played with once and called out for them in the shopping centre. Then as part of growing up she seemed to dump all this and start making new hierarchical memories, recognising the significance of certain people. She has a story she tells as her first memory, the day a dog ate her sandwich from her hand in the park while she and Martin were waiting for me. But I wonder if it's the story she remembers rather than the event. She has a great memory for song lyrics, as do I.

Una seems to have retained the memory of her damaged finger. The other day she saw Craig next door and said 'he helped me with my finger' (he drove her to the hospital) and when we were on the same freeway as we took to the hospital Una piped up with 'lady fix my finger.'

Memory is so fickle. It's amazing the things it fixes on, the things it ignores. It's amazing how memory can take us somewhere else that is neither here nor there but, like baby me, somewhere between - past and present, sleeping and waking. I hope both girls have good memory retention like me. My mother remembers a lot too, though her memory works differently from mine. I tend to remember impressions, mum has an amazing memory for networks and relationships and associations - she can always remember who know who and where from. I think my sister has this ability too (a first born trait? First borns are the family's memory keepers?) My memories tend to be more personal, more inward and introspective.

I am not tagging because I want EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD to do this, either on your own blog or in the comments, but if you do it on your blog, please tell me that you've done it.


  1. Anonymous2:44 PM

    I have a handful of memories from our first house in Bruce St (a few blocks from where I live now), so all before the age of three: sitting in a high chair in a green kitchen with a fireplace/oven set into the wall; taking my leftover breakfast cereal milk to feed a stray cat that had had kittens under our house, simultaneously nervous and excited (me, not the cat -- though possibly the cat felt the same); putting my toes into my mouth to impress Joy, the teenager across the road who used to babysit (my first conscious memory of showing off).

    But my most searingly vivid early memory is staring at my baby sister behind the glass window of the hospital nursery (it was 1969) and saying "isn't she cute" and my dad saying, "er, that's her over there, actually." Such acute embarrassment and humiliation.

    Because show-offs can't bear BEING WRONG.

  2. I wish I had a better memory. I feel like I don't retain much, beyond impressions and the odd scene, from my early years.

    Ten months?!?! That's a fair scroll back in time.

  3. I remember more from pre-five than I do from my twenties. And I don't think you can entirely blame lifestyle reasons.

  4. Anonymous9:07 PM

    First true memory involves watching your mum walk up the flower-filled garden path at wentworth street on a sunny day, coming to look after me while my mum and dad were at the hospital for steph's birth. not quite 10 months, but not that far away. a family trait perhaps?


  5. 10 months? amazing.

  6. Anonymous4:05 PM

    I loved reading that penn : )
    You have an amazing memory!
    I hope that Will doesn't remember his early childcare experiences.Sob.
    I have funny re-occuring memories..and i often ponder why they come back to me at funny times.
    One is a dinner out on a rainy day with my family...I will suddenly think of it..the dress I wore..the feeling I had sitting in the back of the car with my siblings.
    Another is sitting on this wall in the sun, wearing red shorts..watching my long skinny child legs bounce up and down: )
    Little fragments of my childhood that sometimes float through my mind. Weird.
    And you needed to know all that didn't you? lol
    xxx Rach