Kristan Higgins
Kristan Higgins


Jaunty Post

I have a pretty vivid memory, I think. It’s definitely a plus if you’re a writer. Funny things said 30 years ago, how it felt to be a little kid, all that good stuff.

mike&me1But I think I have a really, really good memory. See this picture? I remember it being taken. When my mom had the picture framed a few years ago, I said, “Oh, hey! I remember that!” She said, “No, you don’t. You were just a baby then.” (Quite a fat baby, too, I might add.) I said, no, I remembered. I kept slipping down, which my brother and I thought was extremely hilarious; he kept hauling me back up, as I was just a little butterball and couldn’t do it myself. Also, my sock was falling off.

Mom was amazed. I felt very smug.

Another really early memory is holding my sister for the first time. I was 14 months old then, and my great-aunt Julia handed her to me. My father’s mother said she didn’t think I should hold my newborn sister, but Julia said no, I was doing fine. I felt very awed and proud…kind of tickled that this little baby was for me. I remember my first day of kindergarten, when my name was spelled incorrectly. I remember how Pudge, my high school buddy, won us American History Jeopardy with the answer, “Who is Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill!”

However—you knew this was coming, didn’t you?—there are many things I can’t remember with a gun to the back of my head. McIrish and I have a certain discussion that goes like this:

Me: You’re working tonight? I didn’t know that.

Him: I told you last week.

Me: I have no recollection of this whatsoever.

Him: No, I told you this! I have to cover for Mike because he’s got this thing with a guy in a place.

Me: I’m not saying you didn’t tell me. I just don’t remember.

His voice gets overly patient at this point, as if I’m a not-very-bright child he’s lecturing (Men. So irritating.) The flip side of this is that if he forgets something, he’d rather go to his grave denying it.

Him: You never told me that.

Me: Oh, yes, I did. You were sitting on the stool at the counter, wearing your orange t-shirt and reading This Old House magazine, that article on great faucets of New England, and Willow was eating her supper, and the kids were bickering upstairs over whose turn it was to clean the litterbox, and it was 57 degrees out, and the clock said 6:12.

Him: No. You never told me.

This is the point at which I contemplate divorce and/or homicide (quite happily, too).

franklyMy brain is clogged with facts that I remember. “Hey, it’s Jenny’s birthday!” I said recently, referencing the horse of my childhood. I can remember the middle names of all my two dozen cousins, and all of their kids, too. Battle of Hastings? 1066. Third wife of Henry VIII? Jane Seymour, died in childbirth. Rhett’s final line in Gone with the Wind, book version: “My dear, I just don’t give a damn.” Movie version: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Recently, however, I forgot to pick up Princess Daughter at high school. I felt really bad about this. I often set the alarm so I’ll be reminded of just this sort of thing, and I thought I had set it that day, but no. Maternal fail. (I was nine minutes late, for the record. Hopefully, her abandonment issues will resolve.)

But back to the writer’s brain: it’s awfully helpful to be able to tap into those memories of feelings long past, the hurts and the happiness, and be able to channel them into a book. Even if I can’t remember to pick up my kid from school.

What’s your earliest memory? I’d love to hear it!

17 thoughts on “Remember this?

  1. Colleen says:

    Just yesterday I called my mom and said let’s go to this restaurant..I have a $5. coupon. We enjoyed our dinner and stopped at a store after. As I was pulling out my wallet to pay at the store…I pulled out the coupon! We never go to that restaurant and only went because of the coupon! My mom teased me for an hour!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I remember trips to the ‘outhouse’ with my baby sister when we were 3 and 4. Telling her she better be quick or i was leaving her to the bears of WVA. I wasnt alway so nice. But it was a long, cold walk, across a rotting 2×6 over the little stream next to the house. I also remember (and so does everyone else…yay me!) waking up terrified when i was very little and back to the future had just come out (lovvve those movies) screaming….wait for it….. ‘The lesbians are coming!’ Oh yes, how i mixed that up i will never know, bu i assure you its the topic of many family ‘talks’. Oh! On a more impressive level…i remember every phone number weve ever had. And thats saying alot since we moved so much. The USMC 😉

  3. Michelle says:

    I remember riding my big wheel around the sidewalk under our deck. I was three and I would do circles around the underside of the deck until I was exhausted. My dad was painting the deck when I was trying to see how fast I could go. He screamed my name and just as I stopped my big wheel I see a paint can splat right in front of me. I thought it was awesome that my dad was worried about me and that I was so good at the big wheel I could stop quick! The red paint still shows on the sidewalk, faded but its there. We moved out of the house when I was four. It was next door to my grandma and the same people that bought it from my parents still own it. My dad died when I was 10 but the memories of him are my most precious, even though there aren’t enough.

  4. Rachel says:

    My earliest memory is of being on my dad’s shoulders and visiting my mom while she was working the window at Dairy Queen. We were still a few people back in line, but as soon as I saw her, I started hollering MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY! over everyone’s heads. Dad tried to hush me, but I would NOT be hushed! I was roughly 2 at the time. 🙂

  5. Cheryl G says:

    I think we share a brain. I often say to my husband, referring to a movie we saw 25 years ago….Remember when we saw (insert name of movie) on a Sunday at the Totowa movie theater. We were sitting on the left side 14 rows form the back! Yet, I am constantly asking him his work schedule and when he will be home, sometimes 3 times a day!

  6. I’m not sure what my first memory is. I’ve got pictures – like yours – of early moments in my life, and I’m not sure if I actually remember them, or if the picture has done something to my brain. Like the one of me with my brother and our babysitter. I would swear I remember her, but honestly – I think it’s just the picture I remember after seeing it once a year since I was 2. For sure, I remember kindergarten. Not the first day, but I remember being in the classroom doing a project, and smelling that white paste.

    1. Karen M says:

      So true, Margo! I’ve felt the same way with some pics!

  7. Karen M says:

    Around 3 or 4 I can remember hiding in our smallish front room, usually under the corner table, when my Dad would get home from work. He’d oblige each time, saying loudly: “Where’s Karen? Where could she be???” I’d giggle, then pop out to his utter surprise! Another one around that same time: My family: Mom, Dad & big bro Rich (Dickie back then! 😀 ) were on vacation on Mackinac Island. We were crossing a beautiful stone bridge. My Dad hoisted me up onto the ledge/rail to take photo. I wish I could remember everything about that trip & everything for the 8 following years. My Dad died when I was 12. Even though I may not remember it all, I remember the love.

  8. Kathleen OD says:

    I had to do a walk down memory lane this past weekend. I went to the 100th Anniversary of the Public School I went to. I usually have a good memory, but some of those faces I did not remember. Some I did. I remember who all my teachers were, but some of the kids I went to school with escaped me. Funny what the mind does.

  9. Sharlene Wegner says:

    I remember walking to school with a whole bunch of kids, starting in kindergarten. We had to walk through a field the went by the railroad tracks. We would never, ever let our kids do that now!

  10. Like Margo, I’m not sure if I remember certain things because of pictures or because I truly remember them…such as my backyard sandbox and riding on the back of my dad’s bike chasing the fish and chips man when we lived in England. I was about two at the time. I do have two vivid memories of when I was in kindergarten: my best friend was a girl named Valerie. I LOVED her name and used to beg my mom to let me change my name to Valerie. She didn’t let me. The other early memory is how Valerie and I would play outside for hours in the summer. It was so hot and her mother used to come outside with a pitcher of iced water and a mug-tree of colorful plastic coffee cups. I remember how much fun it was choosing the color mug we wanted and how good the iced water tasted.
    Nowadays, my bad memory frightens me. I can’t remember the important things. But the absurd and useless… I’ve got it covered. For instance, not too long ago, I realized I still know every word to the song RUBBER DUCKY (much to my daughter’s horror, I sang it for her). But those mushrooms I was supposed to pick up for the recipe I was making…umm… well… darn.

  11. Aimee says:

    DH swears he remembers being born. He says it was really really bright, and cold! He didn’t like it. We tease him about it all the time. Does he really remember? Who knows!

  12. catslady says:

    I’m thinking not until I was 4 – that’s when I started kindergarten. Nothing exciting happened before then lol.

  13. By the way, Kristan, you were an adorable baby!

  14. I knew this about you, Kristan. And yes, it serves us well (writing-wise) to remember things in a preternaturally clear way. Although it does tend to frighten people at times. Laughed and winced at the “you were wearing this shirt and it was that time” etc. convo with your DH. I eventually learned to keep this on the down-low as it does frighten people, and assuring them that you may remember what shirt they were wearing but can also recall Ethel Kennedy’s birthday and the lines to the poem you wrote about cats in second grade is not always reassuring. And sometimes it would be handy to crop and delete memories. Maybe photoshop? “Nah, I was not wearing that Norma Kamali dress with the linebacker shoulder pads when I went to that dance.”

  15. Lorelei says:

    Wow! You’ve got quite a memory to remember from that young. I think my earliest recollection was being in kindergarten, when we had story time and I would get bored, I would play with my friends long shiny blonde hair pretending to make braids and would get scolded by the nun to pay attention, even though I had already heard the story many times. I was 4. And, i think i was 3-I recall playing with my fisher price toy telephone that when you pulled it across the room, its eyes would look from side to side… Clack,clack,clack, clack clack…. 😆

  16. Shana Shana says:

    Kristan, this is quite disconcerting. I was told children don’t remember anything before 4. Now I have to worry that Baby Galen will be scarred by all the times I have let her cry it out!

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