Wednesday, September 06, 2006
How Far Back Can You Remember?
I was talking to friends tonight about back-to-school. One friend’s daughter was starting third grade. I said, “I remember third grade.”
Boy do I remember third grade. I remember what my teacher looked like, what she wore, and the boy who told everyone he would kiss me before the year was over (a thought that terrorized me the entire year. And true to his promise, on the last day of school, I was waiting to get on the bus, and he appeared out of nowhere, planted a wet one on my cheek and disappeared into the cheering cacophony of his buddies! Ewwwww, yuck!).
But when I said that I could remember third grade, the others were astonished. Some said that they could only remember back as far as fourth grade. Some said that junior high was their limit. I was even more astonished than they were!
I told them, and it is the absolute truth, that I could remember being a baby. I can remember being held horizontally, all wrapped up, I remember my grandmother’s lace curtains making me sneeze. I remember getting my diapers changed. I remember gnawing on zwieback when I was teething and how my gums felt. I remember breastfeeding. I remember the feel of soggy cloth diapers, being in a crib, crying on my dad’s shoulder and the feel of his whiskers. I remember when my brother was born when I was two, I remember my sister’s birth and my next brother’s birth. I remember being a toddler. I remember what scared me and what comforted me. I remember everything about being five and the first day of kindergarten. I remember the scratchy, fussy dress my grandmother made me for kindergarten, and I remember how relieved I was to change into “dungarees” after I got home again.
I remember first grade. I remember everything about my classmates, my teachers, my room, my toys, my books, and what my siblings said and did and what got us into trouble, and how we got out of trouble. I remember my childhood shoes, my toys, and what I liked to eat and what I didn’t like to eat (I hated cheese around age 5-9, and have been making up for that lapse ever since). I remember the first time I saw television when I was around age one (which was also around the time that most people first saw television). It was a huge piece of furniture with a tiny little black and white screen.
I remember hiding under the bed in my room when I was very young. It was a trundle bed so it was a very nice place for hiding from brothers. Really, there is very little that I DON’T remember. I was as surprised at how little my friends could remember as they were at how much I could remember.
They suggested that I survey people to find out how much they can remember. So here it is. How far back can you remember?