Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Remembering - 1965

I’ve got to learn how to fine-tune the secretion of these “creative juices.” Waking up at 4 a.m. only to fight the urge to write about something – sometimes anything – is somewhat inconvenient. Perhaps it’s better this way. The world is quiet right now. At least my world is quiet right now. Globally, of course, there is much to be concerned about. However, my thoughts this morning are much more benign – almost innocent.

For some strange reason, I found myself searching my memory for my first memory. Actually, I’ve known what it is for quite some time, so I guess I was again trying to authenticate it. You know, asking myself if it was even real. Am I remembering an actual event, or is it the memory of a memory? I know, I know – but I’m not dangerous to myself or others. There is a significant gap between my first memory and the next, and although there is little doubt about that very first one, I cannot be sure which of several snapshots in time follows it, chronologically.

I was born in December of 1962. No, I don’t remember that, but I am told it’s true. In November of 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. Don’t remember that either, but the historical record is pretty clear, conspiracy theories notwithstanding. I also don’t remember anything about the first home I lived in, an apartment in what was then unincorporated San Mateo County, California – south of San Francisco, north of San Jose. I do, however have some sketchy recollection of my second home – the first house my parents purchased.

It was on Ralston Avenue in the city of Belmont, California. My own internal historical records don’t contain that much detail, it is hearsay, but reliable nonetheless. I remember dream-like details of the front of the house, the road it was on and, to a lesser extent, the interior. We lived there around two or three years… I know that in November 1964 when my brother was born, we lived there and in September 1966, when my sister was, we didn’t. I do remember when my sister came along – not vividly, but indelibly. It is among the contenders for my second memory.

The first one involves my little brother. It had to be some time in 1965. The recollection is like a photo or, at most, a very short video clip – two or three seconds, tops. It is a frame of my paternal grandparents and me standing in front of that old Belmont house, at the top of the driveway. My brother was in a stroller. It was windy and cool, if not cold. According to my parents, it was usually windy and cold there. The house was at the top of a hill. When they were shown the house, they say, it was one of the two nice days of the year. When they sold it – same story.

The memory is not nearly as concrete as the rest of my early childhood memories. It has an ethereal quality, far more dream-like than real. If it were not for the connection between what I remember and the reality years later when I drove past that old home, I would discount it as nothing more than a surreal dream. The gap between my first and second mental imprints is lengthy – perhaps a year or more. It is among the reasons that I question the authenticity of that first one. Furthermore, it is the only solid memory I can actually form from those times. There are other wispy images, but I just can’t quite crystallize them.

I always used to think that for one to have memories, one must have a language to remember in. I never had any factual basis for this theory; it just made sense to me. In my thinking, it is one of the things that separate us from other animals. And although language certainly does, I no longer believe it is necessary to form memories. I have friends that say they “think in pictures.” That never made any sense to me – I think in words… and sometimes numbers. But it was perhaps this myopia that prevented me from lending any real credence to what are, in actuality, real memories from my very early years.

So what does all this mean in the quiet pre-dawn hours of a Wednesday morning? I’m not quite sure – I never am. This is what came out. It wasn’t on the “back burner;” it wasn’t on any burner, it was, like so much else it seems, just there. And I wrote about it. Now I’m done. It’s time to either put on a pot of coffee or go back to bed…


Helene said...

so which was it coffee or covers? lol

I never gave it much thought regarding the need for language... idk the answer.

I remember from about 5 on... for better or worse ! lol

Marisol said...

Morning Mike. Hope you opted for the coffee, only because that's what I'd have done.

Your post made me think about my childhood memories which I am sure are not really memories, but stories I've made up to go with photographs I've seen from that time. IMHO - that supports your theory about language.

Thanks for your comment on my Horsey post. That pic is me and it was taken last spring.

This is my first attempt at writing anything more than a business letter. Primarily I feel substantially "underqualified" for the task, but hell its fun! Thanks for the compliment.


Anonymous said...

I'm always found that very early childhood memories, prior to age 4 or 5 could be a combination of actually "remembering" or being told the story enough that those images in my mind were brought about from being verbally told. Who knows. But I DO know that all memories after age 4 or 5 are definitely mine.
I must do some heavy thinking in the wee hours of the I save that for my first cup of coffee.

Biker Betty said...

I actually have a few memories of the first house I lived in. We lived in Sacramento, CA in a red brick house. I was young and not sure of the age (except before 5 yrs). We were playing a song game that involved guessing egg colors. I remember the fun and laughter. I have a few others, but I won't bore anyone with them. I remembered them in pictures. It was the "feelings" I remember and that's what usually triggers the memories. Lots of memories at the second house on Marlboro Ct in the same city. I was about 5 and older.

Great post. Hopefully you get a better night's sleep tonight.

Biker Betty said...

Oh, I do have some recollections of November of 1963 and President Kennedy funeral. I was 3 3/4 yrs at the time and I remember just a little of the procession on TV. That's all though.

awareness said...

HI Mike..........

Early morning blogging is the best time! I'm a pre-dawn riser, which is pre-pre dawn in your neck of the woods.
Like biker earliest recollections is of the JFK funeral procession on a grainy black and white TV. I was 3 as well. His assassination was felt strongly in the rest of the world. It was a shift away from innocence, I think.

Great GPA BTW.........saw it posted in Ellen's secret garden. You brainiac you!!! Bravo.

Lady Prism said...

Funny once again but moments ago I was thinking on something from my pre – dawn past…..then I read this…somebody wants me to remember something way way way way the pathway of long ago…

My very first “real “ memory is of being 12 and holding on to a blue starfish….standing waist deep in the lapping pull of the South China Sea…tasting that summer salty sting of air…realizing... reality..

I’m alone …..nobody loves me…and I will never be standing here….at this exact spot…..ever again…

I think at that precise moment…I met life...

Snaggle Tooth said...

Interesting thoughts n post.

It's strange how new memories seem to "over-write" the old ones of early life. I have tons of 2-4 years old mind-pics n realizations I'm positive were actual. My lil sis swears she remembers the pain of birth n events of her infantcy!

I wonder how much my grandkids (2 & 3 yrs old) will remember from their early life, or if just the general feelings about people will prevail.

I think I'm a musician because I remember my older bro playng the Beatle 45's n I learned to sing "I Wannan Hold Your Hand" word for word when I was 3...
Amazing what the early mind is life-long influenced by!

I think mind-pics can be considerd language, n also I believe animals have language which doesn't use words, but movements- communication in other forms.

I've been language challenged lately with a guy at work who likes me, but speaks little English, cause I'm not well versed in Brazilian Portugese as I am in French n Spanish- always learning! Too bad I can't bring the online translator to work with me...

You've been busy posting up a storm lately! I'll have to save Overflow for the day off tomorrow, time for zzz's soon.

BTW- The New Years Bike ride story post n pics was a cool way to celebrate!

Ellen said...

Well.... first of all, covers would have been my choice.... not a coffee drinker here..... but that's beside the point.

I often travel back into the memory banks for a trip to Rememberanceland because I can recall so much of my youth. Waving goodbye to it and returning to present day is sometimes sad, as demands of todays chores seem so pressing to get done, while daydreaming gives me an excuse to be lazy and relaxed. I don't remember too much of the bad stuff (I must have a good banker in store that allows me to weed out the nasty aspects of youth), but I always remember the good things.... and there were plenty.

My Dad was very instrumental in making sure we learned.... not a difficult task as he was a teacher and educator. If anything came on TV that was "important" (only 3 channels during my youth), it was something we watched.... no matter the time of day. I can remember John Glenn's orbit around the earth, and the Kennedy assignation as well as the footaqe of Jack Ruby taking out Lee Harvey Oswald.... all this live as it happened. Granted I was the same age as Caroline Kennedy at the time, which would have made me 5 or 6. But I also can remember my Mom changing my diaper along with my little brothers (we are only 11 months apart), and my brother somehow getting ahold of the diaper pin (no Pampers then), who then promptly dug it into my leg leaving quite a nice color of red on Mom's white bedspread. I can even remember what we had for lunch that day: hamburgers and french fries (pre-McDonalds age).
Now ask me what happened yesterday, and I couldn't begin to tell you what I did. Short term memory.... not so good at times, unless it had some earth-shattering experience to make it stand out.

Great post.... I love returning to my youth to think about the carefree moments in my life.