Some things lodge in our consciousness like thorns--Harlan Ellison's story "Whimper of Whipped Dogs," based on the NYC Kitty Genovese murder, has been a disturbing echo for twenty years now. Something about the time period and the incident in "Sisters" makes me think of it.
Oh my god--shot of a "Tab" cola can in the fridge! I'm immediately transported to the early seventies. I was born in 1969, by the way, and here's something that freaks me out heartily: reading the birth dates of movies stars who were born in 1980 or later. I find it hard to accept that the pretty young people I watch are *that* young. Our family used to have black vinyl couches. I'm just saying. The first two songs to make an impression on my childhood memory: "Daniel" by Elton John and "American Pie" by Don McLean.
The memories from childhood seem like something from a stranger's life. I remember eating vinegar on french fries in a park in Maine at night, with a tangle of tree branches above, in the black cool fall.
Another memory: bites of an exquisite cheeseburger at a beach kiosk, not long after I'd been feeling carsick. Apparently the memory of perfect taste after misery can make a deep impression.
Chocolate sugar-covered doughnuts from a box my dad bought at a supermarket, eaten as we drove to the harbor in downtown Bath, and I've never found any doughnuts like them since.
Teaching myself the opening bars of "Greensleaves" on a piano in the retirement home my grandmother stayed in--I can't believe I just remembered that. It's been so long.
Having my photo taken with Santa Claus at a ski resort in Vermont, on a slope in snowy winter with my cousin and aunt. Ski resort? Maybe it was one of those special Christmas villages you bring children to. But I can't remember anything else--why was I there? How old was I?
Sliding down a huge slide at a carnival, somewhere in Maine, at night--enormously tall slide, and I am completely alone and loosened from my mother's hands as I speed toward the bottom on some kind of mat.
The auction where my parents bought my childhood bed, a painted elaborate piece of furniture.
My father's Bath, Maine office when I was very little: black and white flocked wallpaper, the bust of the fisherman, the oil painting of a whale hunt. I am sitting on the couch waiting for something.
There's something to residual memories, a chemical signature that is evoked with recollection. You can describe the memories but they will carry no significance for anyone but you. It's nothing you can pin down, just: this was my life.
I can't believe how much disconnection there is between then and now. I don't really feel that who I am came of what I was. Nothing makes sense.