Write a real memory from your early life, if possible from before you started school. Emphasize physical description and sensation. Then, write an early memory that belongs someone else, perhaps one of your parents or a friend. Emphasize physical description and sensation in this other person’s memory too.


My earliest memory


The hospital lobby was empty.  The floor was white tile and the walls were either white or a pale institutional green.  For some reason, it seems that the room was an odd shape, like rounded or something.  It had a high ceiling.  Our footsteps echoed in the emptiness.  At the center of the room a nurse looked out of a window in the wall.  This is where I got my replacement baby dolls when I lost them, as I tended to do.  (I still have the final one and the ladies play with it from time to time.)  At the left hand side of the window were some rounded steps, or maybe they were sharply angled, something was distinctive about them, but they spilled from the wall forming a puddle in the lobby.  I held someone’s hand, it must have been Dad’s, as we climbed the steps.  As we went up, the light got dimmer and the stairs curved.  I also remember someone in a white coat on the stairs, like a doctor.  They were breaking the rules to let me in so I was instructed to be quiet or I would get into trouble and they would make me leave. I really wanted to see Mom, so I was as quiet as a mouse.


I don’t remember any more than that, but I know now that we were going to see my mother who was recovering in the hospital after having my brother.  I was 21 months old when he was born. I guess I remember the scary part and not the happy part when I saw Mom.  I didn’t embellish this at all, but I did the next one.


Mom’s earliest memory, from my memory


The sled’s runners sliced through three inches of crusty snow.  As Mother made the turn at the bottom of the hill, the sled wobbled and nearly fell over.  I clutched the grocery bag with one hand and my little brother with the other.  When the sled was steady again Mother started up the hill. Lee was squashing me and he kept squirming.  Because I was the biggest I had to sit on the back of the sled and hold the groceries and Lee too.  My toes were starting to tingle, a combination of my brother sitting on my legs and the cold.


The sun made the snow sparkle like diamonds, but I looked down into a shadow because it was so bright. My breath warmed my face then hovered around me like a halo.


The trip to the store was long and cold.  What my brother and I really wanted to do was use the sled as it was intended, for fun.  Unfortunately Mother mostly used it to haul us to the store and back, but home was in sight.  Mother’s black coat trudged ahead of us, her shoulders stooped from holding a second bag of groceries and pulling the sled behind her.


When we got to the top of the hill, Mother lugged the sled up to our front step and dropped the pull rope wearily.  She took the bag from me, fumbled with the door, then stepped inside and set the bags on the table.  Lee and I followed her in, our noses bright and running from the cold.  Mother gave the soup simmering on the stovetop a quick stir and straightened her stocking hat. She wiped our noses then led both of us outside to the sled again.  When she got us settled, she started pulling us toward the sledding hill.