— What’s the first thing you remember?
— Oh, let’s see…The first thing that comes into my head, you mean?
— No – the first thing you remember.
— Ah. (Pause.) No, it’s no good, it’s gone. It was a long time ago.
— You don’t get my meaning. What is the first thing after all the things you’ve forgotten?
— Oh. I see. (Pause.) I’ve forgotten the question
© Tom Stoppard, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”, 1966
Through the noise, interference and extraneous thoughts, a distant, black-and-white picture gradually appears. It could be the first memory.
There is a winter frosty morning, snow and bright sunlight. Mom holds my hand — we are going to kindergarten. The sun is opposite, near the horizon, somewhere above the fences and warms the frozen cheeks.
All memories are linked to certain locations in the space of the city. Each the memory has its own place and its own atmosphere. Mentally diving into them, I watch emerging details. But the older the memory is, the more difficult it is to determine what is real in these details and what is not. Over time, all the past is overgrown with fantasies, completed by the stories of relatives or friends, supplemented by their attitude, interpretations and ideas about me.
The most real and honest is the feeling of the importance and significance of happening. And feeling of my exclusivity. There is something more behind everything that happens around me, while I am a child. The world is filled with mystery, and mystery is present in everything around me, and manifests itself silently, in inactivity of things.
Everything turns into a ritual and acquires some special purpose.
The usual TAG game suddenly becomes a part of the plan to save the world. “The secrets” buried in the ground have a mystery, much more than just candy wrappers hidden under fragments of colored glasses. And young spring buds of trees can give you superpower or cure you of a terrible disease. After all, no one has eaten these buds before you, but you are eating — and something must definitely happen after that. Something important.
This childish perception of the world is the most valuable of the lost superpowers. Now I’m trying to get it back and reconcile it with my current present. Understand what was behind everything that happened next. What was the reason for this feeling of fullness and completeness.
Some of the earliest and most vivid memories: the first loss — a machine gun forgotten on the children’s slide, the first question – “Why?” and the first love, which for some strange reason came in a dream.
With a machine gun, everything is simple: I lost it and was very sad about this. I don’t remember which way I got it, but I was very happy, played all morning, and left it on the slide, in the playground, when everyone was called for dinner. It was battery powered, made sounds of shots, flashed a red light on the muzzle, and something was moving inside. When I recollected that i had such interisting thing and we went to look for him, he was nowhere to be found. I felt very sorry and offended. Although it may not even have been my toy. Perhaps It was the reason why it disappeared so suddenly.
I remember the first question in a little more detail. It was in the same place, in the kindergarten. Among the trees, sandpits and slides stood a car welded from rods and sheets of iron, covered with several layers of peeled paint. It must have been a convertible, because instead of a roof, it had only a frame. With wheels, wented deep into the sand, and the cold and heavy steering wheel could be turned endlessly in one direction or another. A couple of kids were in the passenger seat, and I was driving. I was rushing somewhere, imitating the roar of an engine, carrying my passengers, but at some point I raised my head up and beyond the frame of the missing roof I saw the sky and poplar branches closing over me. I froze, and the question arose from somewhere — “Why?”.
But my passengers began to worry and start bringing me back to the life:
— Hey! Well, what are you? Let’s go, we’ll be late!
I didn’t come up with answers to these questions then, and it seems that I still continue this simple and understandable game — to imitate the adult world, still hoping that in this game, or in this world, the meaning exists. And someday it will definitely open up to us.
What about first love? I would talk about it next time.