Today’s post is a response to this WordPress Daily Post writing prompt.: “What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.”
Pressing my face into the mesh of memory, I’ve searched and searched for details from my earliest childhood. My attempts to peel back the layers, clarify the view and remove the dust and cobwebs find little substance.
The few memories that surface are vague at best. I couldn’t tell you how old I was, only where I was, but not when. It’s as if I’m waiting for movie clips about myself from the outside like an independent observer. But in reality the only point of view is from the inside looking out. There aren’t any movie trailers.
Well, there are those 8mm films my parents took. But that’s a memory of a memory.
There is this one clear, unchanging mental image, my first memory, my first awareness of being. My first experience with me-ness.
I am walking between my dad and my mom, going up the street towards our little white clapboard house. Each of them has taken hold of one of my hands. Whether I could walk on my own, I have no idea. Maybe I was young enough that they were encouraging walking, or I could have been older and needing to be kept in check by the two of them. The world is vague and blotchy, all color and wash. The features of most things have no distinct form or shape. Our house is the only clear landmark.
The sensation of a hand in each of theirs is vivid; warmth and energy pulse into me. And then, suddenly, I am soaring up and out, secured between them like a swing. Then I am walking on the ground again. I hear, “One, two, three!” and I sail out into the air again, safely tethered to them both.
Multiple times they count and launch me heavenward. Each “three” creates the sensation of my body feeling free and ephemeral, accompanied by gravity’s pull back between them. Whether I spoke the words or merely thought them, my mind says, “again,” after each swing out and back.
I remember laughter, mine or theirs. Both, I’m sure.
I could easily believe a tale of my birth as a launching from heaven, lofted into the cosmos, riding a wave of star dust and gently landing between my father and mother. Caught between the two of them, I scatter dust from my journey as I swing back and forth, back and forth. It’s a fairy tale worth holding on to.
My earliest memory of childhood makes it feel as if I came swinging into this world suspended between them, held fast by love and joy.