I’m not sure the age that people start remembering memories. It probably depends on the person and the magnitude of the memory or the impact that it had on a person. Early memories seem to be a lot like silent movies, mimelike, in black and white with vivid expression. A person doesn’t really remember dialog, just the emotions that went along with it.
One of my first memories is waiting in a drive thru line at a bank one hot summer day. At just six or seven years old, I barely sat high enough to see out of the backseat window. In the car next to us sat two teenage girls probably waiting to cash a babysitting or birthday check before driving off to do the cool things that teenage girls do, such as hang out at the mall, shop and eat soft pretzel sticks without having to share with their mom. Lucky girls. Someday, I thought, that would be me. For now though, I was perfectly content in the back of Mom’s brown station wagon eating a rainbow of gummy bears to my little heart’s content.
The teller line was taking forever so naturally I stuck a gummy bear to my upper lip in attempt to kill time. “Look Mommy!” but she was busy filling out the deposit slip. Pearing at my reflection in the window, I stuck a few more bears to my lip and wrinkled my nose for good measure. I chuckled softly to myself, proud of my small accomplishment.
I came out of this preoccupation for a moment and looked beyond my side of the car window and into the girls’ car beside. The two teenagers were laughing hysterically. “Gee whiz,” I wondered, “What for?” They faced me while wiping away tears of pure hysteria and in that moment I realized what they were laughing at.
So I froze, bears on face, not knowing what to do. Being caught acting goofy by two complete strangers made time stand completely still. I locked eyes with one girl and then the other. I was utterly petrified. Without blinking, I lowered one hand to the gummy bag and slowly lifted another bear to my lips. I stuck that bear right on top of the first one and watched the two girls roar with silent laughter.
At this point, I hadn’t eaten a bear in five minutes but clowning around was much better. The candy act wasn’t all that funny to me but the girls’ reaction made me go all out. Eventually, my head was tilted way back and there were carefully stacked gummies teetering on pursed little lips a mile high. The charade continued until sadly one car pulled away.
To this day, I think of that inaudible exchange and smile. I’m glad that somehow it stayed in my personal archive of, sometimes colorful, silent movie memories.