I have such vivid memories of my childhood that have remained with me throughout my life. I never thought it was unusual, pondering events of a life lived, and to be honest, as a writer, I have often found a certain degree of comfort reconciling my days here through those memories. Sometimes I think it is as though our lives have been a movie in which we are the spectator.
Washington D.C. 1943…..
The bed was so big my brother and I could stretch out our arms and only our fingertips would touch. The lights were on, but I was scared. My parents were hurrying to pull down the long dark blinds to cover the high windows in our bedroom because the sirens started to blare outside breaking the silence of evening. The noise was deafening and was coming in waves, over and over again.
Then, when I wanted the safety of the night lights, my mother shut the switch. We were swallowed up. Darkest of darkness. My brother and I lay there in that black hole, sheets over our heads, with the sirens wailing in waves and I shook. I shook in fear of what it could be. I had seen those awful scary pictures of war in the movies about the bombs and broken houses like ours.
My brother and I knew this was an air raid because we had been through them before, but each time our fears were real. Maybe this time. Maybe this time real bombs were coming.
To this day, I remember the fear. I can still hear those sirens. And I still remember my relief when after the sirens stopped nothing happened to us. We weren’t dead.
In conversations I have had with my older brother throughout the years about our childhood, he remembers very little. He, for some reason, has scant recall of our lives as children. Was it so unimportant that he walked through our past without holding on to it as I did? Or is his mathematical mind wired differently than my creative one? I have always been highly sensitive and aware of my surroundings. Sherman always seemed absent. So smart. There, but not.
Sherman’s one standout memory of our childhood in Washingon is of when the large cement urn at the top of our outside steps crumbled and fell, pinning his leg, the inner steel stake plunging through his calf. A traumatic incident that left a permanent scar and for some reason his recollections are only made of this one terrible event. Perhaps this is Sherman’s emotional event that allowed his short term childhood memory to transfer to his long term memory.
Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, co-author of Super Brain, tells us that within our hippocampus in our brain our short term memory attaches it to something emotional so that it will transfer to long term memory. But where all of these memories are stored we don’t know. The neuroscientists don’t know either. Not yet anyway. On the other hand, Deepak Chopra, the author and holistic/New Age guru, takes the Eastern view that they are stored in the soul.
Whichever theory you want to believe, since we really don’t know, one truth we all can agree upon is that we each store memories that are our own. So when the sirens stopped and the war was over, my brother and I got our own beds and I traveled unknowingly alone with my memories.
Sandra Hart Copyright 2014. All rights reserved