“Because memories fall apart too. And then you’re left with nothing, left not even with a ghost but with its shadow.” John Green
Part of the rewriting process I’m going through with my manuscript includes writing at least three new chapters, which I must fill with childhood memories of my father, my family and growing up.
The problem is I don’t have very many memories.
Of course, I have a few memories, scattered fragments of childhood, tattered remnants of teenage years. Sometimes they are a sequence of pictures, like a grainy slideshow which jumps about on the screen. More often each memory is a single image without any movement, without a soundtrack. Sometimes I even doubt these memories, thinking that perhaps I have stolen them from someone else. Or maybe my parents gave me these images with their words, handed them to me to tend to as my own. I just don’t know.
My very first memory is of me as a three-year-old, sitting on the floor in front of a black and white television set watching the assassination of John F Kennedy over and over again. In this memory, there is no room around me, although I know I was in my grandparent’s living room as we did not own a television. If you can imagine a black and white photograph of a very young girl sitting cross legged on the floor of a living room in an apartment, on a wooden floor covered by a Persian rug, watching an old black and white television which was in a white walled corner; and you take that photograph and gently tear around the girl and the television, ripping away the rest of the room with its sofa, armchairs, coffee table and bookshelves, you would be left with my memory.
A couple of years ago I returned to another apartment we used to live in. I hoped that standing in the rooms where I spent some of the years of my childhood would bring back a few more memories. But there was nothing. Although it was familiar to me and my bedroom looked much smaller than I thought it would have been.
I’ve heard certain smells can trigger memory but I haven’t had the fortune to experience it. The more I try to remember, the less comes to mind. And it isn’t just childhood. I can’t remember much of my teenage years either, nor can I remember the significant milestones my babies went through, as can most other mothers.
A few people have suggested I see a hypnotist to see if they can uncover my memories for me. It’s something I’m seriously considering. In the meantime, I hope starting to write about the few memories I have will perhaps help me to remember more of them.