My Interpersonal Communications class and I were talking last week about our earliest memories. Can you remember your earliest memory? Can you pinpoint how old you think you were?
Our sense of smell can remind us of something pleasant or unpleasant immediately. When my children walk into the house after being outside and I’ve got garlic and onion sautéing in olive oil, they immediately say, “Are you making pasta sauce, mommy?” Their noses know. When I pass a man wearing a fragrant cologne it can remind me of someone I don’t want to be reminded of any longer. The smell of a musty basement can bring back feelings of being in my friend’s basement playing with my Barbies. There’s no question that scent is one of our most viable reminders of the past.
My first memory, however, does not involve the sense of smell at all, but rather the senses of taste and sight; in particular with taste, it involves a piece of gum. I was probably about four or five and my family and I were at my grandmother’s house (Nanny). She and my grandfather had a white cape cod in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, with a pretty, flat back yard with beautiful landscaping, grape vines, and a bocce court. Nanny loved to throw parties, and everyone was getting ready for this outdoor barbecue/bocce party. My mother insisted I take a nap, and I went upstairs to do so in my aunt’s room (which I thought was cool because she’s a little over 10 years older than I am, so I loved the unique collectibles she had in her room). I fell asleep on top of her bedspread with gum in my mouth and woke up realizing I had slept with it tucked snugly between my gums and my cheek. It was mushy (those were the days before sugarless gum). I was a bit groggy, and I made my way to the pink bathroom that separated the two upstairs bedrooms in the cape cod. The window was open, allowing the summer air to drift in, and I remember climbing onto the toilet to peek at the festivities. Friends and relatives were beginning to arrive, and all I remember thinking is that I didn’t want to miss the party.
What’s ironic today is that I still don’t like to miss a party.
Are our early memories indicators of who we will become or what our personalities will be like in the future? It’s a great question, and one to which I have no answer. Needless to say, that memory is a fond one. I also remember my mother waking me up at an ungodly hour on July 21, 1969, so that I could see Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon. We watched in amazement as we stared at a black and white television set in my parents’ apartment in New Jersey.
Memories are strange things, indeed. There are so many things I want to remember, and still so many things I want to forget. (We’ll save that for another posting at a later date).
But for now, if you’re willing to share, what’s the first thing you remember?
It will be interesting to see which of the five senses your memory recalls. Is it taste, touch, smell, sight, or sound?
I’d love to hear your stories!