My first memory isn’t really, I suspect, a memory any more. It’s more the memory of a memory.
I have revisited it time and again over the past thirty two (almost) years, ever since someone when I was about six told me that they couldn’t remember anything before they were ten. That completely freaked me out so I started analysing my earliest memories. I can remember climbing Hadrians Wall around the age of four, I can remember visiting my Mum in the hospital when she had my sister, I went back and back and I could, at that point remember my Mum telling me she was pregnant with my sister.
I had to work out how old I must have been at that point – my sister was born when I was two – with some conversation with my Mum we reckoned she told me when I was about twenty one months. The act of remembering this memory also freaked me out because it really was in a sea of black, there were vague jumbles of images, smells, sounds after it and before it – nothing.
The memory itself? Now repeated by rote in my head after twenty-six years of prodding it?
I have been called down into the kitchen-dining room. The floor is lighter than I have ever seen it in my fully cognisant life, polished wooden parquet. I step out from the stairs or the hall, to my left is the wooden table that is currently in my main room but it’s higher than my head (it genuinely has had two inches removed from it since). My Mum is sat on the comfortable green leathery armchair in the alcove next to the Rayburn. She is looking large and happy. Dad is around somewhere.
That’s it as far as the memory goes, I know that when I was a kid I could recall the first sentence she said, but I have forgotten it. I know she told me that she was pregnant with my sister and something about how that worked.
Eventually I suspect I will be left with colours and the physical sensations of the things which are present. Even of my mother, what I really have is her hair, her smile and the physical presence of her flesh. I suspect this is how I process information when you get down to the basics.