Memory is fluid. It evolves as we do, changes along with us. It is, by its nature, both truth and illusion.
I think one reason I started keeping a personal journal so many years ago is that I realized this to a certain degree. I knew that what we remember about any given event in our lives is selective, filtered by the current moment. If we are feeling good, optimistic, we may remember an event in a positive light, whereas if we are feeling down, anxious or depressed, we might remember that exact same event, but focus on elements that were not positive.
RAM: On childhood and being good.
Sometimes I wonder why I was always so intent upon being a “good girl”. Was it my religious upbringing? Was any adventurous spirit smothered by doctrines and reminders to be good? I know that must have played a part in it, but for the most part, I think I ended up okay, and am a good person, if I say so myself. Of course, one could always ask to define “good”. I didn’t always follow the rules, but it took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t the rules or whether one followed them that made a person good or bad.
The one thing I loved about Kindergarten, well, two things actually, were story time, and learning the Alphabet. There were not pre-schools back then, and daycare was something mothers did, this was still a time of stay-at-home moms, at least for those families that could afford it.
My mom wasn’t one to “tell stories” though I’m sure she must have read a few story books to me, at least when I was little. I wish I could remember. What I do remember is when I would have an asthma attack at night, she would come in and tend to me, and sit in the bed with me, holding me up in a semi-sitting position, so I could breathe more easily and eventually go back to sleep. I remember how secure I felt in her arms, and so, strangely, some of my fondest memories of that age involve being sick. Something to think about.
1966 age 14
Life is a series of first times, that begin when we are born. First breath, first cry, first word, first step, so many firsts that fill out moments as we grow. Some firsts are considered milestones, many are not. I may include several of those in this RAM series, after all, we tend to remember first times more easily than others, because they are moments that are, at the time of happening, unique to us. As life goes on and we experience the same event more and more, it loses the impact of that first time.
The following is about my first period, and a terrible event that happened almost simultaneously, and how the two are forever intertwined in my mind. If you are male, and squeamish about women’s bodily functions, it may be best not to continue reading, though I promise it’s not that bad. I’m not embarrassed, so you shouldn’t be either. 😉
Earliest memories around 1954-1957
I wonder how far back most people can remember events in their life? Do some people have clear concise memories from when they were tiny? Or is early childhood more of a fog, with only small bits peeking through from time to time? And how many of those memories are “true” memories, coming from within, spontaneously? I know some memories can be “grown” and nourished, perhaps through photos and family stories – you may not remember exactly but you have heard the story and seen the photos so often it becomes like your own memory.
Those are not the kinds of memories I intend to share here. what I want to share are memories that come to me naturally, not from stories I’ve been told, but from tiny bits that are saved in whatever long-term storage locker I have in my mind. Which can cause a problem for early memories, because my early childhood is very much a blur, aside from a few tiny glimpses, vignettes of the past. Here are three such glimpses.
I’m starting with this, because I wrote it by request for my daughter’s blog, Inspire Project, and it seems a nice place to start. My forth-coming memories may not be as inspired as this one, no promises, but I wanted to start out my RAM project with something uplifting.
This may be a sweet little story, fun, but sweet, too. It’s something nice I did, that inadvertently brought me something even nicer in return.
After I moved to Switzerland and began to speak French most of the time, I got so used to it, I often even thought in French. One Saturday I was in the city shopping, I’d had lunch, and browsed my favorite stores, but now was heading home. I was feeling rather low at the time, thinking of my family in Texas, feeling a bit out of sorts. After 10-12 years living in Switzerland I still had the occasional bout of homesickness.The shopping trip was supposed to make me feel better, but thus far, nothing was working.
On January second of this new year, I lost internet for five days. Five days!!! It was scary at first, wondering what to do with myself while having my morning coffee – I am always in my email then, writing friends, visiting sites of interest. Now, for the first time in a long time I was left alone with myself. It was an interesting experience.
This project came to me while I was spending time without internet. I have a couple of friends I write to regularly, and I realized while cut off from them, that I have what can be described as a Need to Write, even if it’s not written specifically to someone.
Often while writing my friends, something they say will trigger a memory in me, and so I will share it with them, but in less detail than my memory is throwing at me. But it gave me an idea. I decided to start recording these Randomly Accessed Memories – to just think of something that happened in the past, and start writing. I guess it’s the Blogger’s way of creating one’s Memoirs, albeit in a un-ordered state, hence the word Random