On my 30th birthday, I ran a 30 kilometer trail race. I spent each kilometer thinking about that year of my life.
My first realization was that my memory is pretty terrible.
My second realization was that I routinely have the realization that my memory is pretty terrible, and that I should do something about it. Six months later, I’m writing a blog to memorialize my life, my thought process, things I want to look back on.
My third realization was that my first concrete memory is from when I was two. At the most.
Being a military family, we moved relatively often, and before I turned three, we had left the place of my birth. But, while I lived there, I had a best friend, who lived next door, and who was also one and a half.
We had so much in common, it was natural to be best friends. We were the same height, we both enjoyed cookies, our moms knew each other.
My first, and only, memory of living in Virginia Beach is going to my best friend’s house, tipping over a barrel of toys, getting scared, and only getting one cookie, when I was promised two.
My daughter is three years old now, almost four. I ran twenty six kilometers before I thought about her birth. The last four kilometers of the race were brutal, the sun pounding down, the race seemingly all uphill, rocks leaping from the ground to trip me. But somewhere, in those brief moments while I staggered to the finish line, lays my daughter’s first memory.
I hope it is something good. I fear that it is something scary, unsettling or disappointing.
The other day my cousin Whitney came to visit our house, sleeping over on her way to New York city to have professional headshots taken. I wanted to ensure that Madeline wouldn’t interrupt her sleep, as excited as she was by the visit, so I told Madeline that Whitney wouldn’t play with her the next day if Madeline made noise at night or left her room.
The next day Whitney had to leave early to make her appointment in New York, and Madeline didn’t see her in the morning. Then things ran late in the city, and Whitney got back to our house after Madeline had gone to sleep.
Madeline asked, “Why didn’t Whitney play with me? I stayed in my room, and I was quiet!”
I hope that’s not her first memory.
We take Madeline to fun places, have her do exciting things. We are members of the Lehigh Valley Zoo, and when we’re on our way home we ask her what her favorite animal at the zoo was. “They don’t have bears,” she says. “They don’t have lions. Or giraffes.” Will her first memory be being disappointed at the boring zoo, filled with enclosures that could hold awesome animals, but instead have boring old kangaroos?*
*Note: I think Kangaroos are awesome. Madeline apparently wishes they were bears.