How far back do you remember?
Not sure how this happens, but at my later age, I look back and really remember things, things from my childhood, specific events, days that happened over 50 years ago.
My earliest memory is when I was about 3 years old. We lived in a trailer and I was supposed to be taking a nap in my parent’s bed. The sun was coming through the window and I became obsessed with the way it made my eyelashes look like rainbows. I spent a long time just blinking and watching. I remember this like it was yesterday. I also remember deciding to try some of the liquid bleach my mother had in a small cup up on the window sill behind the sink. I think I was barely 3 then. My poor mother! I don’t think I drank much, but she had to induce vomiting to be sure.
I have often said that writers seem to have almost cruelly accurate memories, they cannot avoid going back to cerain events in their lives and vividly remembering them. I feel raw sometimes with the emotions I relive, the scenes I revisit.
I wrote a poem recently about the passing of time and getting older. It’s an unabashed look at the changing of our selves through time. How simple and clear it was when we were very young, how much heavier it becomes as we raise children, lose our own parents, and start to feel the finality of aging.
The miraculous thing about this poem — Called “Moving through Time (Getting Older)” is that every single thing in that poem is something I really did or had or thought or had happen to me. I really did all those things. I remember the tiny plastic blue mermaid that I pretended was real in my desk at school, I laid her on a piece of cotton padding in a small white jewelry gift box — that was her bed. I took such good care of her.
As specific as the poem is, it’s something most can relate to. How when we are very young, we feel like everything is almost alive. Like store manniquins speak to us and point the way to where our mother is, for example.
You might not remember those times at first, but I remind you of it. I remember for you. I hold the memories. That is my job I realized recently. That is the job of a good book or poem. To connect with you, through common experiences and feelings.