Bloganuary: “What is the earliest memory you have?”

Today’s Bloganuary prompt is another one that made me pause. I’ve always known that I don’t have a very sharp memory for specific past events. What I do remember well are feelings and more general summaries of happenings. Photos are a great memory jog for me.

From ages 0-8, I lived in a small duplex on Tait Street in Linda Vista, a working-class, mixed-race suburb of San Diego. The house I lived in and its yard and garage are no longer standing. About six years ago, my mom and I drove by our corner lot, and an apartment building is now in its place. It struck me how small the lot was, and how that little house, yard, and detached garage were my whole world in my early years. Back then, it felt almost as if I could run for miles.

Some of my earliest memories involve music in that house and people who were involved with it. My dad was a professional musician, a multi-instrumentalist, and he would occasionally disassemble his horns and spread the pieces out on towels in the living room. He’d meticulously clean them all and then reassemble. There was a clunky, old upright piano against the west wall of the living room, and I remember it being played, or plonking random keys on it. Sometimes band members would drop by, too. They all seemed so tall, and were all kind to me. We had a turntable, since LPs were the way of the 70s, and music from Santana to Chicago, Miles Davis to classical composers (Stravinsky, Handel…) filled my ears. These earliest memories most likely happened from ages 2-4.

I remember the layout and furniture in the place. Memories that stay with me are my bedroom, which was actually a big walk-in closet with a little window at one end, a narrow bed, and a curio shelf by the door; playing make-believe around the 6-foot plastic Christmas tree in the corner of the living room; the hutch and my mom’s Hummel collection; the beige analog phone with its twisted cord; a very 1970’s orange-tinted, clear plastic partition between the dining area and the kitchen. There was also a grassy yard all around the place, where I used to play with the neighbor’s kid – there were pink lady’s slipper, eucalyptus trees, a swing set, a laundry room with outdoor access, and a little, square garden and tin shed (which belonged to the neighbors) behind the detached garage. It’s where I’d hunt Easter eggs, play treasure hunter, hide-and-seek, and Planet of the Apes adventures that were concocted by my playmate.

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