Yesterday morning, I was going through old archives of Chookooloonks, and came upon this story that I had written when Alex was 2, and we were still living in Trinidad. When I read it, I laughed heartily, since (a) I didn't remember ever writing it, and (b) I didn't remember ever living it. The sad fact is that if I hadn't actually written that account, I'm not sure I would've believed it happened.
The truth is that I have an absolutely horrible memory. Huge swaths of my past are gone forever. I don't think I could name 10 friends I had in any particular school that I attended (and given that my family moved every 2 years of my childhood, that's a lot of schools). I have vague recollections of major events happening -- a going-away party in 8th grade when my family was moving back to Trinidad, prom night my senior year -- but I remember only a very few details of those occasions. When friends ask me if I remember So-and-So, someone I would've known more than, say, 7 years ago, they're often met with blank stares. I'm awful.
And yet, there are certain details of which I have a crystal clear recollection:
• I remember the house we moved into when I was 5 years old, located at the end of Now-For-Now Road ("now-for-now" is a Trini-ism for "immediately"). I remember it was a grey, dilapidated 2-story house, with window units, and a cracked concrete patio. I remember that bats lived in ceiling, and at nighttime, you could hear them skittering across the roofline. I remember the back yard was sand, with a rickety wooden gate that opened right onto Mayaro beach.
• I remember, when I was 11 years old, getting my very first "stereo" for Christmas -- it was, in fact, simply a turntable with speakers, and I was completely blown away that I'd have a stereo in my bedroom. I remember opening a corner of the wrapping paper, and on discovering that the box held this stereo that I'd coveted for so long, I rocked back and forth in fetal position while my parents laughed at my reaction. I remember getting it all set up in my room, and putting on my very first LP (the Grease soundtrack), and listening to it over, and over, and over.
• As a teenager, I remember many evenings sitting in my grandmother's room after school, with her sitting in her rocking chair telling me stories of when my mom and her brother and sister were kids (but sadly, I don't remember any details of any of the stories). I remember Granny used to smell like Limacol, unless she was going out, and then she smelled like Chanel No. 5. I remember Grandpa used to smell like Old Spice and pipe tobacco. I remember Granny's wardrobe smelled like mothballs, which I loved.
• I barely remember graduating from college -- like, I have no memory of it whatsoever -- but I do remember an instant when I was graduating from law school: I remember climbing the stairs onto the stage, shaking the dean's hand, and as I crossed the stage clutching my diploma, one of my favourite professors got up from his seat to hug me. I remember being incredibly moved by the gesture, and know that I'll never forget every detail of that moment (but I don't remember how I managed to walk down off the stage afterwards, or where my seat was, or even exactly what building on campus that the commencement ceremony was held).
We've lived in our current house for 7 years -- longer than I've ever lived in any house in my life -- and yesterday evening, as I was sitting in our dining room taking a few photographs (because I liked how the light was falling on a thrift-store clay pot I bought -- 9? 10? -- years ago), I thought about how grateful I am that I've been blogging this long, and shooting this long, to help trigger memories of my marriage/motherhood (and I vowed not to stop as long as my fingers and eyes work). I wondered how much Alex will remember of her childhood when she's an adult -- if things like my perfume, or Christmas presents, or tiny acts of kindness and support from professors will be the only things etched in her memory, or if she'll remember every detail about her life.
So, if you're so inclined, share with me: do you have a good memory? What memory stands out from your childhood?
Song: Little talks by Julia Sheer & Jon D.