Monday, March 14, 2011

Shadowed Memories

What are your earliest memories as a child?  How old were you?  My earliest memory is sitting on my mother’s bed looking at magazines with her.  I was probably about 2-1/2 years old. 

Another memory is waiting for the train and waving at the engineer and the man in the caboose.  The train went by our house every morning.  I remember standing in the backyard waiting to wave to them.

I remember my mom taking me to a beauty parlor.  The lady had a mirror that sat on the floor.  I remember seeing a little girl in the mirror and looking behind the mirror for her.  The lady laughed gave my mom a large mirror for me.

We moved to another town when I was three.  I remember parts of the car ride to our new home.  I have asked many people about their early memories.  Most people that I have talked to don’t remember things from their early years.  I wonder why most people don’t remember?  I wonder why some of us do?

I have always been drawn to old mirrors.  Sometimes they show up in my dreams.  In one recurring dream I am a young teenage girl looking into a full-length mirror.  There are lots of decorative beveled cuts in the dark wood frame.  The reflective surface has bubbles and is smoky.  My reflection seems to be in the shadows.  As I look at my reflection in the mirror I am aware that the mirror is reflecting a different setting than the one behind me.

I can see the interior of an older house.  Maybe an old Victorian house, maybe a Painted Lady.  There is a large staircase with a light colored banister on the left side of the mirror.  In the reflection I am wearing a long dress with a high collar edged in lace.  The skirt flows out.  My hair is braided and pinned up.  I am not wearing any glasses.  Around my neck hangs an oval shaped locket.  There is an oval mirror hanging on the wall behind my reflection.

As I look at her I wonder why I can see her.  I wonder if she can see me?  I wonder who she is?

Then I wonder who I am and why this scene continues to replay itself through my life.  I usually flash back to that first mirror and I wonder if I saw my own reflection or if I saw someone else in the mirror.


  1. Ruth,
    this is a reflective piece (pardon the pun) in every sense. The writer delving gently back in time to retrieve a memory. They say we only remember a version of the turth when we engage in memoir pieces, but I loved your recollections. Early memories are so interesting and so diverse. it is fascinating what the mind holds onto...

  2. I have several really clear memories from being a real small person. I always like to hear the memories other people share when they were young.

  3. This is a sweet piece of memory, and I loved thinking of mirrors as a repeating motif to memories. But my first thought was: you had a train come by your house every day! That's pretty neat (if you get used to the noise and rumble). Plenty of songs are written about watching the train go by.

  4. Ruth,
    I enjoyed reading this piece. Like you, I have many memories from early in my life. I lived with my grandparents, aunts, and uncle and have wonderful memories of swinging with my grandparents. You are drawn to mirrors, I am drawn to swings.
    Your dream of the mirror is incredibly detailed. We once had an antique mirror with the black around the edges from aging. I saw it as soon as you started to describe your mirror.

  5. My earliest memories are of being 3 or 4 and playing in my grandmother's front yard.

  6. I am one of those people that has a difficult time remembering my childhood memories. I was drawn, though to your recurring dream. I have one, too. I wonder how many of us do?

  7. I really enjoyed your piece. Very curious. It would be fun to get to the source. I had a recurring dream once and when I told it to my mother, she was surprised and told me what she thought I was remembering. After that, I never had the dream again.

  8. I'm remembering my past but I'm never sure when things happened. I love your specifics Ruth and I am also taken by your mirrors.


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