What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.
I want to say that my earliest memory is of being bathed as a baby in a plastic tub by a window with sunlight pouring in, but I’m pretty sure my mind made that memory up. Who wouldn’t like to have been bathed in a tub by the window with the sunlight pouring in? Although, it’s possible that it really happened. Since I was the second child, my mom might not have been averse to taking such a poetic risk as bathing her baby girl by a window that opened not only to the East African sun but also to all the other creatures and features of nature abundant in that part of the world.
Nature does feature in one of my earliest memories, though. I should say in my earliest batch of memories, since they all involved going to the same park on weekends. Ironic that it was the airport park. That’s right, I spent most of my early weekends at the airport. Talk about getting in some early practice. In those days, I remember the Addis Ababa airport having well-maintained gardens with lush grass, vibrant flowerbeds and pretty winding walkways. It all seems surreal, but I have the pictures to prove it. It was a perfect venue for family photos and we took plenty advantage of that. The taste of the airport cafe bombolinos and lasagnas are also still sharp on my tongue.
Thinking of the airport I know now, it’s hard to imagine anybody hanging out there willingly. But of course that’s because I’m thinking of the one we use now, us international travelers, the “new” wing (harhar) that got old almost as soon as it was opened, the one that is now open/now closed to the public, the one with the fossilized escalator. The airport I mean to remember is the old one that is now used only for domestic flights, the one where you used to be able to go up to the blue verandah and walk around, where you could actually see and wave to people coming and going from the airplanes. It’s probably all rust and weeds now, much like my long-term memory.
Who knows why those experiences were the ones to stick with me. You’d have to ask my mind that. Premonition? A sense that I would grow up to be a frequent flyer (minus the reward miles)? Perhaps. If that’s the case, then I wonder if I retroactively subconsciously selected those memories as my earliest ones because they were a perfect fit with the rest of my life when, in fact, my actual early memory was of me stripping off all my clothes to shower naked in the rain – which I’m told I did once – but my brain decided to “forget” that because it would have meant that I would grow up to be what? A pole dancer at Seaworld?
Now there’s some food for thought and a snapshot to remember it by.