Sunday, June 04, 2006

FIRST MEMORY


they call it television because brain-corrosive eye-candy manipulation machine didnt score well with the focus groups
Originally uploaded by fubuki.

I'm sitting on the floor. Maybe I'm two or three, but I feel younger. I feel like a baby with my back erect, and my legs bowed out in front of me, and I'm watching TV. My hair is short, and curls in the humid room; it's the beginning of the frizz that will haunt me for life, but I'm blissfully unaware of my it. I'm not aa bit worried about the dimply fat in my thighs either. Ah, life is good!

What I am concerned about and utterly engrossed by is the flickering TV screen before me. But in my memory, it's not only the images on TV that are colored in shades of gray. I'm black and white, too; and so is the room that surrounds me. We've been totally swallowed up by the world behind the screen.

Interestingly enough, the-me-that-was-to-come (self-conscious about her thighs and frequently frantic about her frizzy hair) would not turn out to be much of a TV watcher. Oh, I found it interesting enough. Still do on occasion. It's just that real life with it's books and gardens, its rivers and paintings and people and music is so much more so...

Not so for the frizzy-headed baby who's been trapped in the black and white TV however. In my memory, no one can break through her fascination. Though it's my memory, I only own a small piece of it. I see the baby; I see the room; I see the TV. What I don't see are the other people in the house, or even what's captured her attention on the screen.

But the greatest mystery of all is why this moment? Among all the sensory images in all the moments--why remember this one? Were the baby's parents arguing in the background? Had she just made some kind of baby-revelation about life? (If indeed babies have revelations.) Or was it really what she was watching on TV that made this moment so enduring? Had the baby gotten lost in the magic of story for this first time?

If we could rewrite the things we don't remember, then that's how I would describe this one: the nascent writer beneath her new frizz discovering story for the first time. But I won't. I'll leave that baby there in her black and white world staring at something she will share with no one.

14 comments:

Simply Coll said...

I have wondered similar thoughts. Why are some memories like frozen photos in time. Why those moments? Why those images?

marja-leena said...

Fabulous post! I'm amazed you can remember back to 3 yrs of age! I can really connect to these feelings of a child, and as an adult looking back! Sometimes I wonder if my own memories are really mine, or were "formed" by the stories told by my mother, sometimes as we'd look at old photos. Stories becoming memories?

Diana said...

You bring up a great point. I can remember so many moments in time, like snapshots, but I have no idea why those particular moments are burned into my brain.

I remember once as a teen looking idly out the passenger window of our car and seeing a man walking on the sidewalk. He did something funny with his face, like a grimace or maybe he was about to sneeze, I don't know, but it seemed to be in slow-mo and I told myself (with utter disinterest, I have to add - I was bored by the whole scene) that I would remember that moment forever. And so far I have. Why? Just because I told myself to??

AscenderRisesAbove said...

what a clever post.
I remember our first tv - both black and white AND the first color tv; it was huge 'back in the day'... and the big debate was: RCA or Zenith.

paris parfait said...

That's a lovely account of a first memory and the ambiguous reason that it sticks in your mind. Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your childhood. Nice image accompanying your piece.

rdl said...

You were probably watching Bozo with his frizzy hair. :D

Patry Francis said...

coll: I'm sure Freud et al would have something to say, but I'm not sure I would believe them.

Marja-leena: just that one fleeting image, and as you say, the nature of memory is always questionable.

diana: Interesting! Shows the mind's power to select its own memories--at least to some degree. Others are imprinted whether we like them or not.

ascender: The RCA or Zenith debate! I almost forgot that one. Actually, we have an old RCA in our bedroom right now--which reminds me of another debate my husband and I often have. TV or reading?

paris parfait: Ambiguity is the word when it comes to memory. Thanks for your comment.

r: Maybe that's why my hair frizzed? Too much bozo the clown at a young age?

Tarakuanyin said...

I'm like Diana, lots of snapshot memories. I enjoyed this one, and the frizzy hair comment, which I relate to 100%.

colleen said...

My husband and I were just talking about this last night...how certain memories get locked in...like marks on a yardstick...often ones that don't seem important.

One of my earliest memories is being out in the yard and putting a rock in my mouth and wondering if my mother could see me. Was she omnipresent? I must have been pretty young to still be putting things in my mouth. I also thought the newscasters could look out of the TV and see me. I remember hiding behind the couch the first time I saw one.

Patry Francis said...

tarakuanyin: "snapshot memories" Would make a good title for something--a collection of poetry maybe. Thanks for visiting!

colleen: I like that you remember both the rock in your mouth, and worrying that your mother would see you. Maybe that's why it stayed with you...

We had an elderly neighbor who thought the people in the TV could see her, too. She had to get dressed up before she turned it on--and chose her outfits according to what she was planning to watch.

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Patry Francis said...

more spam. sigh.