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What's Your Earliest Memory? 996

spazoid12 writes "I've been curious lately about memory. For example, why is it that my earliest memory is from about 7 years of age? (I'm mid-30's now) Most people I know remember much further back. How far back can a person remember? Is there a theoretical limit? What are the requirements for acquiring memories? I've read that oxygen is one; as in actual breathed-in stuff. This is supposed to explain why you can't remember anything from within the womb. That seems silly to me. My own theory (with nothing to back it up) is that language is required. We spoke mostly Brasilian Portuguese and some Russian in the home up until I was about 5 or 6. We moved to Brasil for a year when I was 8 and I barely remember anything from that trip. I really don't know either language today-- could this explain why I have no memories of those years? What if I re-learned those languages now, 30 years later? Would memories flood back?"
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What's Your Earliest Memory?

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  • Actual Memory (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Malicious ( 567158 )
    I can barely remember yesterday, let alone 15 years ago, but it's strange. I don't remember much before 10 years old, however I do remember Dreams I had in that timespan. Specifically a dream about flying across country, or nightmares about Dragons, that scared me as a child.
  • That automatically makes you an wicked Linux kernel coder :)
  • I have memories back as far as days afyter I was born according to my mother and things I have talked to her about remembering...
    However the earliest clear fully realized memory I have where I can remeber a large span on time(more than 2 or three minutes and where the landscape and general setting changes though the memory as I move from place to place) seems to be when I was about 2.
    • I thought I was the only one who remembered things like that -- thank you, now I am not quite so alone.
      My first few days of memory are not for public consumption (do I have to patent my IP now?)

      FWIW, my 2nd year memories include my sisters birth, and watching Walter Cronkite on TV, about the Moon landing and VietNam.

      Later on, I remember becoming fascinated with computing in 1974 (age 7) while hanging out with my parents at the local university. They were teachers, and had accounts on the computer (an IBM 704). I recall that a bored sysadmin was kindly enough to show how the punched cards worked; it was fascinating how much information could be conveyed with this system.
  • The furthest I go back is at 2 1/2 years old...the first time I visited the house I lived in for the rest of my childhood...I vaguely remember the previous owner showing us the place, I remember the colours of the walls, I remember the trees that used to be in the back yard...

    I remeber the ugly cubicle-like separators they had in the daycare center...

    But I got a freaky memory...people call me a walking encyclopedia.

  • ...from when I was two years old; but actually it's more like a memory of a memory of a memory of a memory...
  • hypnosis (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drDugan ( 219551 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:29PM (#4973921) Homepage
    you ought to try hypnosis. I've
    observed many sessions, and the results
    are astounding. If you are able to be
    hypnotized (I've tried, but never been able
    to do it) -- it may help you remember early
    memories. Have someone that you trust
    put you under, or a professional.

    • Re:hypnosis (Score:3, Interesting)

      I had a girlfriend about 8 years ago who talked in her sleep (not mindless babble; very intelligent conversation) and slept A LOT because she had mononucleosis.

      When she was asleep, she behaved a lot like people do when they're hypnotized. When asleep (and only when asleep) her hearing was amazing: she could hear a whisper 80 feet away when we were specifically trying to not let her hear. She also had an absolutely perfect memory of everything. And I do mean everything. She could quote to me word-for-word lengthy conversations I had had with her weeks, even months, earlier.

      It might be worth mentioning that she, though absolutely alert, would refuse to open her eyes when she was asleep. She said it made her dizzy. She did just fine without them, though. She could move around, interact with her environment, walk, and I even saw her jog a few steps on a hill outside. Eyes closed the whole time.

      Even more frightening still, when she was asleep, she mentioned quite casually that she had complete access to all her prior memories, and furthermore had absolute control over which of those her awake self could remember. She had to pick and choose which ones to give access to "other" awake self because when awake, she way too distracted by life and everything to be able to remember it all. It's as if the pathway to the memories was there, but she couldn't get to them because her mind was so busy doing what it has to do to stay awake.

      Looking back, I think that her increased hearing ability and amazing memory were somehow tied to the fact that she refused to use her eyes. Just think of how much computing power it takes to process video, particularly if your primary task is recognizing what the objects you see are. Immagine having a computer that had the power to process images in real time with the power, speed and accuracy our own minds have. Now immagine shutting off that facility and using that processing power elsewhere. I think shutting down image processing takes a tremendous strain off your mind and could, in theory, free it to do more deep introspection than otherwise possible.

      I once asked her when she was alseep what her earliest memory was. She said she was very small, laying on her stomach, looking down at her blanket but wanting to look up. She said she felt frustrated because she didn't know how to move. I guess she still hadn't figured how to move her limbs. I don't know how old that would put her at, but certainly not much. She estimated she was about two (days, not years).

      She had no reason to lie about it either (and, it seemed, was in fact incapable of intentional deception when she was asleep) so at least she believed what she said. Whether it's true or not I don't know, but I have no reason to disbelieve her. She did things asleep that were far more amazing than remembering her infancy.

      • Re:hypnosis (Score:3, Informative)

        by dissy ( 172727 )
        Most every study Ive read about the development of the brain in babys states that the brain does not finish developing the ability to get meaningful data from vision for two weeks or so after birth.

        The brain knows there is light, but doesnt yet know how to focus those images or even form images in the mind at two days.

        I wish I had some links to these but I have no idea where I read the articles in question.

        There could be a number of other explanations for her 'early memorys' and in fact they may not be memorys at all.

        To the consious mind, there is no difference between a memory of an event, and the actual event being percieved by the senses.
        Durring normal waking state memorys are inhibited by the brain by hormones specifically so we dont confuse our senses with a memory.
        However durring REM sleep (and im sure other stages the brain can be in) tose hormones are themselfs inhibited, which is why we dreams seem so real.
        In essence, they are.

        When a person becomes consious in the REM state (What is called lucid dreaming) you become free to use your imagination to create a memory of something going on or happening to you, and as the memory inhibitors are being inhibited, it seems like reality for all intents and purposes.

        When the brain gets 'crossed' so to speak, and one is in REM state but still being able to percieve the senses and communicate with the outside world, your perception of reality changes almost totally.

        What would be interesting is if she had some sort of cross between a hypnotic state of consiousness, and a lucid REM state, where she literally Could turn on and off the senses and resouces of her body to only percieve the parts of the world she wanted, which left more time to focus on the specific details she wanted to (IE no vision but very good sound perception as you desrcibed)

        Maybe that was her way of interpreting 'two days from when she had consiousness' which would have been over the two week period.. But i dont believe it was literally when she was two.

        Vision doesnt come until two weeks, and its believed consiousness and self awareness still another month or so after that.

      • Re:hypnosis (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Naikrovek ( 667 )
        That is amazing.

        My girlfriend can do things kind of like this, she walks around with her eyes shut, and i can ask her questions about anything i want and she always answers them clearfully and honestly (to my knowledge). I can ask her questions about anything - ex boyfriends, how she is feeling about herself, how she is feeling about me, what she wants for christmas (she got what she wanted) and what she got me for christmas (i didn't get what i wanted, but she didn't lie).

        it is amazing to lay down with someone who hypnotizes themsleves. if she had a rough day, i can scratch her head or massage her feet (putting her to sleep) and after she's been asleep for about 20 minutes i can tell her that everything is going to be alright, that the people at work are morons or whatever, and the next day she's a new person. I've never had to talk her into the same thing twice, either. once i tell her that person X is a liar, she believes it unconditionally from that day on. A very powerful tool, but very dangerous also. I told her the plot to lord of the rings in her sleep last night and now today we watched the extended cut of the fellowship of the ring not once, but twice! she was shocked that she suddenly could understand the difference between Sauron and Saruman. every little plot detail that i told her about she pointed out to me, explaining them to me, and she could *not* believe that she suddenly understood the whole movie without asking me questions about it.

        The subconscious mind is very powerful.

        I wonder what would happen if these two women wound up sleeping in the same room one night - would they talk all night long in their sleep? what would they talk about - and would they recognize that they were both asleep and talk in some mumbles that you or I could not understand but that they could? I'd love to know what could happen if these two (or any two) could get something going while they were both asleep.

    • by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @12:51PM (#4976903)
      Check any of the recent research on hypnosis, and you'll find that there is no way whatsoever to tell the difference between a recovered memory and an implanted memory produced while under hypnosis. While you are in a state of hypnosis, you are in a state where you have two things working against you - one, you are open to suggestion, and two, the mechanism for tagging the difference between things you remember and things you imagined stops working properly.

      For a quick read-up, check this link [fmsfonline.org] from the False Memory Syndrome Foundation's website.

      A quick read of almost any post-mortem on the whole "multiple personality disorder" craze of several years ago should also raise your skepticism. My roommate's own mother had her shrink succeed in giving her a case of dissociative identity disorder that she did not have before she started seeing this 'doctor' through a combination of hypnosis and directed questioning.

      And don't think the professional hypnotists are going to give you an entirely truthful explanation of the benefits and risks of what they do - the fact of the matter is, if they admitted the truth, they would not only be jobless, but would be opening themselves to all sorts of malpractise suits. Asking a hypnotist if hypnotism works is a bit like asking a door-to-door vaccum cleaner salesman if his product really works.
      • by Reziac ( 43301 )
        Observationally, I've noticed that for most people, it only takes a couple verbal repetitions of a false or inaccuate memory before they develop an unshakeable belief in its reality.

  • Memories... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thebeagle ( 628904 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:29PM (#4973924)
    Wow. This is a new stretch for Slashdot. Slow news day or something?
    Under hypnosis, people seem to be able to remember far more details from the past... which would imply that what our brain stores is far more intricate than what we can pull to mind in common conversation. Some people believe we could train ourselves to remember more... just as we can train ourselves to remember dreams if we write them down anything we remember as soon as we awake. Proust's "Remembrances of Things Past" is a lovely study on memory, what is remembered, and why. I've never gotten past the first thousand pages, though...
  • I remember my birth. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xombo ( 628858 )
    I remember my birth, it was painful and my entire body felt like it was stinging and everything was very bright white, and loud (like acid?). I also remember being a baby, and my mom would hold my hands trying to get me to walk. I don't remember much, but I do remember some things of early childhood. Does anyone else remember things from when you were that young? I am 15 now.
    • by BurKaZoiD ( 611246 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:34PM (#4973953)
      I think that's you coming down off X or LSD or something.
    • Me too. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Nick Driver ( 238034 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @11:23PM (#4974469)
      My earliest memory is also of my birth. Before all you disbelievers say bullshit... this is no bullshit.

      Very few people can remember their birth and it is rare indeed, but true nonetheless, and is very special for those who can remember.

      Before my birth I was conscious, aware of myself and knew I had sisters, and one was particularly closer to my mother and me during my mother's pregnancy. And indeed she spent a great deal of time staying very close with my mother during the last couple months of the pregnancy. I remember waking up one morning expecting to hear my sister's and mother's voices, but in a way I really wasn't aware that my mother was my mother... I thought that she was just another sister "out there" too. Something was not right that morning. I knew I was being taken to see "Doctor Knight". It's very strange that I knew his name although of course I'd never seen him before, but I think I must have known who he was from my mother's office visits during the pregnancy. He had been the family doctor for many years and delivered two of my sisters before me. Anyway, I don't recall much of the labor, but I remember hearing Dr. Knight's voice and the voices of all these strange nurses. I had no idea what they were saying of course, but Dr. Knight had a very distinctive deep voice that I still remember to this day, even though he is long gone many years now. I remember that before all the commotion, that I was comfortable and feeling just fine, and I did not like this disturbing thing that was happening and wished it would go away. I wanted to go back to sleep and just be with my "sisters" and be comfortable again. Everything was suddenly becoming very harsh. All of a sudden everything was blindingly bright and cold. There was a very bright overhead light on the ceiling of the delivery room (like in a typical hospital of the 1960's) and the brilliance of this lamp was painful. All these strange big people were there moving around and talking frantically and I did not like them. Doctor Knight was the first person to hold me but I did not know or understand who he was now. I don't even think I was capable of understanding the concept that I was a baby and was being held by a giant adult. I just remember screaming and crying so intensely that I could not catch my breath and I could not stop crying either. I wanted to be back with the comfort that I thought was my "sister" (but was actually my mother). I do not remember much detail about what happened after that, except being exhausted and falling asleep again. That's it.

      I am in my 40's now. My mother died of heart disease a few years ago. As I write this post, my tears are flowing quite freely right now.

      To those of you out there who remember your own births.... keep that memory alive in you as long as you live. It's very important whether you like it or not. I know that I will remember it as long as I live, and that it will very likely be what I'm thinking about when it comes my time to die.


      • Re:Me too. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @12:09AM (#4974665)
        That's the problem with "memory" - it's subject to revision and addition along the way, just like "history"...

        (Not that I'm saying it's this bad, but) this isn't too far off from people who are SURE they can remember being abducted by aliens... deja vu also seems VERY real to people. Also, things like early family photos, etc. that you have seen many times over the years can make you feel like you actually *remember* when it was taken.

        I'm sure it seems real, but your claim that you knew someone's name from before you were born (let's not get into the development of a concept of self vs other, let alone sister vs. mother in the PREnatal brain...) pretty much discredits this completely. Unless you were in there a good year and a half there is no way your brain is going to be developed enough to understand and recognize a name (heh, even if you were an adult have you ever TRIED to hear someone speaking from inside the uterus? I can't even hear people when I'm underwater in a swimming pool...)

        Basically, if you were to say "I remember my birth! It was dark and warm, then light and loud and cold" then I'd only be SKEPTICAL... anything else, and you're just kidding yourself. Not that there is anything wrong with that, really, it just doesn't add much to a scientific discussion.

    • induced memory (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Slashdotess ( 605550 )
      This is probably induced memory (not sure the exact definition), as no one has been found to remember that far back. What happens is your parents or someone else tell you tidbits of moments during your birth, etc and your mind creates the memory. This happens a lot with people that witness a crime, after they've talked with so many people about it, many times their memory can change completely.
  • My earliest memory is writing a FOR NEXT loop in BBC BASIC to move my name across the screen, using a CLEAR after each itteration. I'd have been about four or five at the time.

    The curious thing is, I can remember it too well. That's what leads me to feel that memory is associative: I remember what the programming language looked like, the characters on the old screen, what the code would have looked like and I can remember that I did it. Combined, I have a vivid memory of exactly what that code from that specific instance would have looked like. I can remember too exactly, making me think I have a memory formed of the recombined elements rather than the specific instance.

    Alternatively, I've spent too much time working with relational databases and they're affecting my world view WAY too much.
    • Yeah (Score:3, Funny)

      I had a false memory like that too. When I was about one or two years old I took a plane trip. Until I was fifteen or sixteen that was the only time I was on a plane.

      When I was still young (single-digits) my parents told me about the trip. Then I was convinced that I could remember the plane trip. But then, after a few years, I saw a picture or TV shot of the inside of a plane and realized my memories were nothing like the reality, and I had constructed them after hearing that I was on a plane at that age.

      My parents tell me that after a while on the plane I started saying "I want to get off this bus!"

  • tried to bake a cake in the toaster when i was 3 and a bit. Remember quite clearly the sparks and flames coming out of the slots. figured that rising should work for cakes if it works for toast.
  • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oliver Defacszio ( 550941 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:32PM (#4973940)
    ...relying on my skills as a network administrator (and my Psyc textbook), the following is generally held:

    Humans cannot physically remember events that happen before the age of two. Any "memories" that appear to come from prior to that age are either a) purposely or inadvertantly implanted by a third party ("remember when..."), or b) the result of typical happenings for a very young child. For example, many children fall out of bed at least once, so you may remember doing so too whether or not it actually happened.

    • Yeah, my earliest memories are from about the age of two.

      Strangely my internal clock always told me these early events happened when I was "about four". A couple of Thanksgivings ago I was relating some of my earlier memories to my father (my mother passed away in 1983, I'm 48 myself, my father 80), more or less amazing him at some of the events which he remembered, too.

      And he remembered my age for some of these events a lot more accurately than me. "Oh, that was in 1956, you were only two!" etc etc.

      And they weren't common things, and some had internal clues that should've clued me in that I was younger than four at the time. Also you'd think that the fact that I learned to read at age four would've made me realized that my memories from before I learned to read had to have happened at an age younger than four!

      But I think learning to read was such a significant event that internally I pegged "being conscious, aware, and remembering" to the time when I learned that skill rather than when earlier events actually happened.
      • Yes, thank you -- learning to read was very important for me too!

        As far as this discussion goes, my idea is that human memory is probably unlimited in the conventional sense; the only limit seems to be the ability to retrieve from memory, at will. This means that it is all saved *somewhere*, we just can't get at it all. Perhaps this is a good thing?

        This is completely unscientific and unverifiable, but I will stand by this idea until shown otherwise.
    • I can (Score:5, Interesting)

      by protest_boy ( 305632 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @10:49PM (#4974336)
      I was born in June of 1979. Mount St. Helens erupted in May of 1980. I live in Colorado and can clearly remember the effects of the eruption. I can remember wiping ash off the fender of my Dad's truck, and I remember my neighbor washing his white car almost daily for a week. I can remember tracking ash into the house off my bare feet. I suppose it is possible that these "memories" were implanted in my brain but I can see myself doing these things from a FIRST person perspective. This is why I don't think these memories were suggested to me by my parents or anyone else.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

      Humans cannot physically remember events that happen before the age of two.

      Nonsense. I'm uncertain of my age at the time the earliest event I can remember occurred, but I was almost certainly younger than 2. I might even have been younger than 1.

      It happened in the first house I remember living in, which was in a small community near Manville, NJ. It was a small Cape Cod, two floors, with a front door that opened up into the living room right before the stairs. Against the wall beneath the stairs was a desk, and looking straight towards the back of the house from the desk you could see into the kitchen, where the back door was. In the living room hanging on the wall that seperated that room from the kitchen and above the couch, was my mother's old violin. This approximately dates the memory; the violin was replaced by a picture by the time I was 2.

      The memory is admittedly an isolated one, but based on certain features of it I may even have been an infant at the time, which would mean that my parents had been living in that house for less than a year. That would explain the primitive state of the decor. I was laying down near the desk, in a cradle of some kind, and from where I was I could see the violin over the couch and the entrance to the kitchen.

      Now, my Dad has always had a somewhat twisted sense of humor, and enjoyed the effects his magnificent (at the time) bass voice could have on people. He had a trick where he'd make a growling noise through a paper towel tube. The tube would add resonance to the growl, and it really would sound like a large animal snarling. While he'd do this, he'd roll his eyes back a little. When I saw him doing it later in life, he was using it to freak out the cats and the dog. They're reaction was pretty funny, I guess.

      This is what I deduce he was doing to me, but that's not precisely what my memory conveys. What I remember is that his mouth elongated into a cone, with the wide end near me, and the snarling with his eyes rolled back. It scared the bejeezus out of me. I think my brain was at the time still too immature to process extreme perspectives correctly; thus the illusion of the tube as a cone. I also recall a kind of helpless feeling, as if I was unable to move myself away.

      This literally gave me nightmares for years afterwards. The figure of my father, his eyes rolled back and his mouth distorted into a cone, was a stock monster in my childhood nightmares, only disappearing with puberty. The early memory that was the germ of it remained however, and it was only relatively recently that I put 2 and 2 together and figured out what exactly that memory meant and what my Dad must have done. I haven't done this kind of thing to my own kids, not until they were old enough to understand it was a joke and would laugh at it instead of becoming frightened.

      This is obviously not a stock happening; not only is it too specific and idiosyncratic, but I remember details about the house that put an upper limit on my age at the time. Nor was it implanted by anyone. My Dad never mentioned it and I don't think my mother even knew about it. It's purely visual, with nothing verbal about it at all except for the snarling, and required a certain amount of thought to decipher in a meaningful way. No later verbal description could possibly have implanted the images I recall.

      As poorly as the brain's chemistry is understood, psychologists ought to be more cautious about declaring some phenomena "impossible" than they evidently are.

  • by konstant ( 63560 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:32PM (#4973944)
    My earliest memories are from when I was 5 in a Dutch kindergarten. Subsequently my family moved to the United States and I have no functional recollection of the language, yet the memories persist.
  • by Jenova ( 27902 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:32PM (#4973945)

    I remembered starting to really like coffee at the age of six and started drinking it regularly. Talk about early addiction.

  • I remember very clearly looking at this mobile above my head and pushing up on these things to get them out of my face. They kept falling back down and it was frusterating. Only recently did I see this picture of my crib with said mobile from a completely adult angle, which stirred up the memory.
  • Sorry I can't find the reference, but I once read that most people are able to remember from when they are 2 years old, whether they actually do depends on whether you have ever tried to think back on these memories to "keep them alive".

    The 2 year limit comes from the development of the brain, you simply dont have a real long term memory when you are younger or even references to understand what you experience.

    Personally I can remember a few scenes from when I was 1-2 years, some of them are a bit strange in concepts, but common to all of them is that I have known these as my earliest memories since I was 8-10 and have thus kept them alive.
  • by Bitsy Boffin ( 110334 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:37PM (#4973972) Homepage
    To remember something, you generally either need to know what you are trying to remember or need a prompt of some sort (a word, a smell, a place, anything can be a prompt really - you'll just get that "aha, I remember this" feeling and memories from around that period will reveal themselves).

    If you try to just restore memories you are more than likely making them up (not that you realise you are making them up).

    I would say it's unlikely that anybody remembers anything from around age 3 - they may think they do but it's more likely the memories have been implanted (nothing conspiritorious, just a purely natural thing for memories to be "implanted" unintentionally). Reason is simply that a childs brain takes a good long while to develop - long term storage isn't high on the agenda.
    • From my own experiences that trauma plays a key factor in people remembering things from early-childhood. I know that I myself can remember things that happened in-utero. For example; I remember driving a large white car in my home town as a child. I asked my mother when it was that she let me drive that car. She then told me that she only had that car for a little while when she was pregenant with me and that the car was sold shortly before my birth! Explain that one! I also know that my mother was going through a lot with my father at the time. So does that mean that her trauma caused me to remember things that happened while still in the womb?
    • I would say it's unlikely that anybody remembers anything from around age 3

      Counterexample: I still remember my bad experience at the age of 1. I saw my dad using his razor and tried it myself. It hurt very much that I cried so hard. My (late) grandma noticed that and told my dad off. I still have a very thin scar (hardly noticeable) on one of my cheek.

    • My earliest are all around 3-4, and all for things that frightened me. My family was stationed in Germany back then - I was the family interpreter up to the age of six when we moved back to the states. I lost the language around 12 and can only count to ten now. Anyway, I remember being a tom-boy and climbing on clothes lines - I fell off and landed on a spike. We lived off base, so no hospital near by. I have a pretty decent sized scar on my butt to remind me. But I can pretty vividly remember trying to get myself off it, and trying to get home afraid I was going to get in trouble. Still in Germany, we went to a haunted house thing on the base, and you were supposed to close your eyes and reach in to some unknown scary goop, I was told it could be worms and freaked. It was only spaghetti. My parents never did that to me again. To this day, I can still remember a bad dream. We must have gone to Disney Land before moving to Germany, and I had a nightmare one night that all the 'It's a Small World' characters (which I loved then and still do) were dancing around my feet and poking at me. The cat had gotten under the covers and was playing with my toes, but it turned into a nightmare - I can still remember my mother running in the room to wake me up and pull the cat out. I know the age is right because we lived in two different houses while there so I can pin-point the location.

      When I think about what I can remember, it breaks my heart when children are abused, because I can understand how it affects them forever. And I count my blessings that my earliest memories, though caused by fear, were for nothing more than kids stuff.
    • The prompting thing I think, is a pretty likely thing. It helps, if nothing else. After I was born, my parents and I lived in a house along a river, one which we moved out of when I was 2 and a half, and into the house we lived in for the next 20 years or so.

      I never would have said I remembered the old house, until I went to visit it as the whole old street/riverscape it was in was being re-landscaped. Most of the houses in the street were empty having already been bought out by the local council, and my parents took the chance to take a look through. I can't say I noticed anything about the front exterior of the place, but once inside I knew it intimately - where the kitchen was, the bricked up doorway in one of the bedrooms, the sun room and the two steps that led down into it, it all came flooding back in general terms like that. The backyard was also familiar, in its curious shape (thirty feet wide and hundreds long), the drain underneath blackberry bushes right up the back... the way it sloped off to one side...

      Everything -fit- immediately, in the way that it usually takes me a few weeks to feel I know where everything is in a new place. It was an experience :).

      Apart from that I can barely remember yesterday!

      a grrl & her server [danamania.com]
  • by rmohr02 ( 208447 )
    I specifically remember the way the stairs were laid out at my old home, but my family moved out of there when I was 2, and I hadn't been back in since. I asked my parents one time and found what I remembered was right.
  • by YellowSnow ( 569705 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:38PM (#4973978)
    what was posted yesterday!
    Dupe Dupe Dupe Dupe of URL Dupe Dupe Dupe of URL
  • by DeadMoose ( 518744 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:40PM (#4973986)
    Well, I recently cleaned up and threw most of my old hardware away, so the earliest I have is the stuff in my old 486.
  • by spoonboy42 ( 146048 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:40PM (#4973988)
    My earliest memory was from when I was one year old. My father was carrying me down the stairs, and tripped. He managed to cradle and protect me, although he sustained a broken tailbone in the fall. I distinctly remember the arrival of the paramedics, the color of the room (brown), even the fact that the stretcher had 3 straps.

    Incidentally, my second memory is of my father's return from the hospital, whereupon he immediately went to our kitchen and got some pretzels. I have no other memories of that house (we moved out less than a month later, though).

    Anyway, I'm not a medical sort, but on the oxygen issue: I suffucated during my mother's labor due to complications in the birth, and was dead for a couple of minutes before I was ressuscitated. I have no idea whether that had any affect on my brain development, but I don't have cerebral paulsy (the most likely outcome of those circumstances), so who knows?

    Incidentally, my sister acquired language at a much younger age than I did (she was forming complete, gramatically correct sentences at the age of 2), and yet her earliest memory is of preschool at age 4.
  • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:41PM (#4973999)
    For example, why is it that my earliest memory is from about 7 years of age? (I'm mid-30's now) Most people I know remember much further back.

    Almost everyone I know has what strike me as overly clear memories from when they were extremely young.. 2, 3 years of age. Often, I've found that when you talk to their parents or other older relatives, the story you get from them is almost word-for-word what the child 'remembers'. My guess is these are things that the child has heard many, many times in his/her life, and eventually forms a 'memory' around it. Sort of how some people hear a story about something happening and incorporate that into their stock of things they believe happened to them.

    What we hear from others influences our own memories highly, it's amazing how many people can recall group events years later, even if some of them weren't actually present for something that occurred. Also, a child's sense of time is really out of whack - remember how long summer seemed to be? Things that happen when you're 5 or 6 can seem to have happened when you were much younger.

    Memory is a very tricky, changing thing, even for recent events in fully cognizent adults. I don't find it surprising at all that childhood memories aren't terribly reliable nor consistent.
  • I'd say that before a certain developmental stage, you are unlikely to form memories. When might that be... who knows, probably depends on the person.

    Whether you can recall early memories that you DID form might have a lot to do with the type of memory, and what brought it to the surface. Painful memories are obviously going to burn brightly, unless they are so painful that your subconscious edits them out.

    Odors often trigger memories quite powerfully. In theory, is has to do with the sense of smell being closely tied in with the limbic system. These kinds of memories are often very emotional. Can you still remember your first girlfriend's perfume? Maybe not specifically, but you might remember it if you smelled it, if only from the emotions is would generate. I can still clearly recall my grandmothers perfume, and my uncle's pipe smoke (the uncle died when I was pretty young).

    It's a good question... a child psych person might know.
  • Mine start around age 3, with one exception.. I have a flash of memory of picking up my sister from her crib (I would have been in the 2'ish range). She ended up dying before she was 6 months old. I've sometimes wondered about it, thinking that maybe I kept it at least until she died, then my brain kicked in and said "OK, you're remembering this."
  • by deragon ( 112986 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:42PM (#4974006) Homepage Journal
    I remember reading/hearing that the reason why we remember so few from our early years is that there is a hypothesis which states that our memory forgets in the younger years to protect our sanity.

    You see, a young kid goes through very rough traumatizing experiences (falling down, being psychologically hurt when mother says no or leave for a few hours, etc...) Off course, these are benin experiences for us, adults, but for a new, undevelopped brain, they are tragedies. If we would remember those experiences, we might have developped some psychological problems. Forgetting our younger years would help us keep our sanity until the brain is well formed.

    As I said, its a hypothesis I heared somewhere. If anybody got a link to this, please share it with us.
    • No its because the region of the brain that stores long term memories hasn't developed yet and the hormones and chemicals needed to store them aren't being produced. Like pubic hair, some develope faster than others. I started shaving when I was 13 but my first memory is at age 4. It's all relative and has nothing to do with "trauma".
  • "[Regarding age 7]I know remember much further back."

    How much further back can you go? Even 5 years back isn't really "much" further back. Anyways, as for early memories, my earliest is probably my mom rocking me and singing lullabies while I could still fit on her lap, and I remember that eventually my feet were hitting the bookstand next to the chair, so I was getting taller. I remember some of the lullabies, passed down to me from her father's mother, my great grandmother, from Spain. Another early memory I have is from preschool. I've always been a science geek, and I remember a kid brought in a periscope for show and tell and I remember coveting it, and wanting to see through it so badly, and wondering how it worked. And another early memory is probably from around 4 or 5, when our car got stuck in the snow and some joggers came along and helped push us out. But the lullabies are probably the oldest. I remember the fabric of the chair, how it was a rough weave, and I remember the bookshelf was black sheet metal that made a tinny twang when anything hit it. I also remember playing with Legos for hours, going to an apple orchard, singing my first song in front of strangers when in my then-church's "cherub" choir for 4-5-year-olds (Morning has broken). I was lucky. My mom is a biology major, and a scout leader. When she wasn't helping me to do great science fair projects, we were going to a picnic, or to the zoo, or chasing hot air balloons. Or she was checking me out of school for a doctor's appt, only to surprise me by taking me to the movies. Dad was the authority, mom was the adventurer. Good mix. Now, at almost 25, I don't doubt for a moment that I was and am a very lucky kid, and I think I've got good insight as per how to raise an independant, compassionate, knowledge-seeking flaky kid just like I am :)
  • Maybe for "Total Recall 2". That would make this article remotely relevant to the /. crowd.
  • that I was doing something just now...
  • Uh, last Tuesday? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by X-Nc ( 34250 )
    Seriouslly, I have memories that go back to when my youngest brother was born. I was 5 then, I'm 40 now. What's hard is that most of these "memories" are more like feelings and impressions rather than solid memories. I have a number of memories of when we lived in Italy back in the late 60's. But again these are more like impressions than memories. It's hard to seperate the feelings from the thoughts.
  • Humans are vulnerable to false memories and memories of memories. In the first, your mind simply accepts a lie; in the second, you remember not what happened, but what you remember when you last thought of it or, worse, talked to someone else about it who was there. So I suppose your true oldest memory would be something you recall for the first time today, and which happens to me true.

    The mind plays all sorts of tricks that infect eyewitness or child testimony, psychological counseling, and so on. Controversial are "suppressed" memories, submerged for years by trauma such as child abuse, which later come out and may be accurate (courts have even extended statutes of limitation by the period of the suppression).

    So it is important to be very cautious and critical. I have a few faint memories dating from when I was 1 1/2 to 3, but since I've thought about them now and again over the years I don't really think of them as true 30+ year memories, and they may entirely false by now. Perhaps how far back you remember reflects how introspective and literal you are.

    Memory has been studied extensively in the psych literature. I mostly looked at it from the standpoint of the effects of organic brain injury on the ability to learn or remember. I bet you can find many books on childhood memories at Amazon et al; unfortunately I do not know the field well enough to recommend any. Much of the literature is in a subfield called cognitive science that I never cottoned to.

    For the layperson, Oliver Sacks' books [amazon.com] (especially "Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat") on psychological ephemera are quite entertaining, if not rigorously scientific.
  • What's you're earliest analytical memory? My earliest memory is probably moving into my new house, which was probably around 4 years old.

    On the other hand, my first memory where I figured out something by myself is when I turned 5 -- and I remember distinctly realizing that my age was the same as the number of members of my family.

    Of course, this is an easy one to tie to a date because of the specifics of the thought. Others probably don't have memories that are that easy to date. But anyone have any other examples out there?

  • Early memories for me were firsts of things. Like the first time, I saw or heard or understood something. Sort of like the camera freak. Oooh this is new! Better take a shot of that for later. Goofy, but that seems to be how it worked for me back then.

    Most of these are snapshots of a sort. There is a visual image combined with a rough time of day, and some direction. Very little sound, unless it was a key part of the memory.

    All of them are short like movie clips. Could be my attention span at the time, or maybe just somehow only the relevant things were stored. Who knows? I was pretty damn young!

    So I remember walking past a guy (who I could describe fairly well) who happened to be cutting some pipe with a saw. To me this was very interesting because the cutting of things happened with metal. What then cuts metal? This was in the summer about mid afternoon. His house was three up from ours on the same side of the street. The door was a dark color, he wore coveralls with no shirt underneath. (Ewww.) I was walking my bike up hill because I could get a nice ride... His house and ours faced east.

    Another was a group of kids all riding bikes down the hill we lived on. They were jumping at the end. One kid in particular had an odd sized sprocket for his bike. He pedaled really fast. I don't have a thought for that one other than hmmm... Oh, and they called him 'little kid' only he was the same size they were. Later on I remember seeing sprockets on smaller bikes and thought they were referring to that with the name. Have always wanted to ask... which is likely the reason why I still remember.

    Earliest one is in front of the first house I remember living in. I can remember the shape and color and one of the rooms. (The one where I got busted for turning on the TV for the first time... Hehe. Got started bright and early I did!) It faced north, though I did not know that until later, but managed to remember enough to know. Some people across the street did strange things. I remember their basement and some other things that led me to realize (when I was 16!?!) that they were fencing stolen goods for some thieves. (Don't ask, it just popped in there and my parents verified it.)

    Just goes to show you never can tell what the little ones might remember. My parents were surprised that I knew. They moved because of it.

    Language seems to play a part though. I can verbalize thoughts I had then. I am not sure if the verbal thoughts were constructed later or not. I suspect almost all of them were.
  • I was hit in the head by a minivan 3 years ago(I'm 16 now). Since then I have very few memories of when I was bored.

    I remember nearly every day of Auto Mechanics from last (freshman) year, every day of of Adv. Geometry from the same year, but not one memory of Adv. Freshman English or Keyboarding beyond the teachers name and some CDs I listened to in class :-)

    In a decade or two will I still remember AP Physics(awesome course) or nothing but the different class, variable, and method names of my code?

    As for my earliest memory, it is getting my first book on GW-BASIC in second grade. I still have a 5.25" floppy with some of my code from the time and a notebook of flowcharts. I hope I still have a few discs to look back through, but I've given up on notebooks. I just might port some of that code; the "Uno Warrior" was a backbreaking 2000 step 10 lines! Now that we no longer use line numbers, tens of thousands seems like less to brag about whereas 200 with no external dependancies seems amazingly efficient for an "adventure" game.

    As for the author's "language" theory; I'll never be able to forget BASIC though it is a lot of fun to insult it. I don't remember Pascal, nor any of my programming in it.
    • "I was hit in the head by a minivan 3 years ago(I'm 16 now). Since then I have very few memories of when I was bored."

      Whew. I thought I was abnormal for not being able to remember stuff from when I was sitting there, bored out of my skull...
  • I am mildly autistic and my mind is wired differently because of it.

    I have severe shortcomings in my short term memory but I make up for it in long term. My earliest memories were when I was sitting on some steps and looking at the baby fat in my hand and being curious about why I had lines or folds on the palm of my hand. My second was when I took some thermometers out of a fishtank and threw them on the floor. I asked my mom how old i was when I did this? She said I was still a toddler and I was around 2. I also have an unusual ability to memorize details in my surroundings because of my lack of ability to filter them out due to autism. For example I described to my father where he use to work by the 4 rusty train tracks that surrounded his office and I described half of his team and where they all sat. I even remember seeing an old DEC PDP-11 that I only figured out what it was after seeing pics on the web. He told me he quit that job when I was only 3 and he knew the names of all the guys I described in vivid detail. I also remember a cousins backyard and bedroom perfectly from when I was 5. I have not seen his home since.

    It all matters on how your brain is wired. I assume someone who can not remember long term events has superb short term memory. My brain just made up for one shortcoming by strengthening another. This is how our brains are designed to work.

  • Questions such as this are interesting. However, the Slashdot editors seem to have lost interest in computing, but I haven't.

    Read The Primal Scream, a book by Arthur Janov. He was a Los Angeles Russian who didn't have the good fortune to be connected with Brazil.

    The practices of Primal Therapy bring back memories. Janov found people who say they can remember being born. After having done Primal Therapy for 4 years, I find the claims credible. (This was more than 20 years ago.)

    John Lennon of The Beatles did Primal Therapy. Before he was doing 4 drugs and sleeping around. After, he stayed home with his child. The therapy seemed to have done him some good.
  • Ray Bradbury..... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by abelaye ( 533580 )
    ...claims that he remembers his own birth.

    For me, that would be a very disturbing experience.

    -- anthony
  • I met my first best friend in my drive way when I was 4, that my earliest memory and strangely enoug it's in black and white.

    Some people remember further back, for instance the Dali Lama remembers vividly the day the monks first visited him at age 2. I seriously doubt anyone could remember anything before then.
  • I think Mr. Hubbard has you all beat. He claims, "I know with certainty where I was and who I was in the last 80 trillion years." For those of you who don't know which Hubbard this is, it's not poor mother hubbard who had no food in the cubbard's husband. This man is the founder of Scientology (head to zenu.net [zenu.net] for more info). I just happen to know this because I just finished a paper on Scientology I did for a class on Major Cults.
  • This is a little convoluted, but bear with me...

    I can remember a few dreams that I had of being able to fly when I was about 6 or 7 yrs of age (I'm 37 now). The dream usually involved me floating around my school of that time. How I floated was interesting though; I simply raised my knees to my chest, and tilted my body forwards & this let me float in a forwards direction.

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that this was a memory of floating in the womb & a foetal position! I'm sure I didn't dream *that* too (the reading, that is..)! Anyone else with similar dreams??

  • Myelin. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @09:56PM (#4974076) Journal
    The human brain's development is designed to enable our upright posture.

    The human femal pelvis is a bowl with a small hole in it, unlike those of our forebears, which are tubes with large holes.

    As a result, a large head would block our birth. But if we had small heads, we'd have small brains. But we don't. How does it work?

    The human brain is not fully formed at birth. The insulation on the wiring is left out, saving most of the volume the brain will eventually attain. This insulation is called "myelin".

    The brain's wires (axons) aren't fully myelinated until about 6 months after we are born. So a human baby can have no coherent cerebral activity at a younger age. It's mostly hardwired activity coordinated by the more primitive portions of the hindbrain.

    • Re:Myelin. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blakestah ( 91866 ) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Sunday December 29, 2002 @02:09AM (#4975075) Homepage
      Egads, this is a poorly informed post.

      Peripheral myelin hits its peak around a year of age - it basically allows walking because feedback from the legs gets in sync with the motor commands.

      But various parts of the brain continue to change myelin status through the first 6-7 years at least.

      However, the lack of myelin doesn't imply the lack of coherent cerebral activity (although it certainly doesn't help).

      • Re:Myelin. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AeternitasXIII ( 628171 ) on Sunday December 29, 2002 @05:01AM (#4975498) Journal
        But various parts of the brain continue to change myelin status through the first 6-7 years at least.

        Its generally believed that the average for myelination process to complete is around age 25. An increased rate of myelination in various areas of the brain is strongly correlated with increased rates of learning skills associated with the myelinating region.

        The first regions to complete myelination are related to spoken and auditory linguistics, followed by vision processing. Now, given that basic auditory processing and visual processing occur in the temporal lobes, and given that one of the other primary functions of the temporal lobes is interacting with the hippocampus and amygdala to create, process and retrieve memory, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that myelinations of these regions facilitates the first memory formations. Your motor cortex, followed shortly by the rest of the frontal cortex, typically won't finalize myelination until your late teens, which parallels with the end of puberty and the slowing rate of growth. By the time you're in your mid-20s, myelination is completed with your prefrontal cortex (sentience and conscience) coming dead last.

        However, the lack of myelin doesn't imply the lack of coherent cerebral activity (although it certainly doesn't help).

        Just ask a person with multiple sclerosis whether or not the gradual loss of myelination in their motor cortex implies a lack of coherent cerebral activity in the motor cortex.
  • being in a crib, wearing an orange coverall and crying.

    I also have this rare dream where I'm walking around and the chair seats are all as high as my face - I turn a corner and wake up.

  • It seems to matter how 'big' an event was - I can clearly recall my fourth birthday - we packed up and moved from a large city to the middle of nowhere. Big yellow rider truck, I got to ride with my father, my little brother rode with mom.

    I have one earlier memory that my father confirms, but I'm way too embarrased to post it on slashdot :-) It must have been when I was three, because it predates the big move ...
  • I remember back when I was probably about 3 or 4 years old, I reached up and turned the lights on in my parent's basement. Everything before that was tranquil blackness. No sound, no images, no feeling, just kind of floating in blackness. Then I turned on the lights.

    Suddenly I could see and hear. I remember running (well, since I was a toddler, it was probably more like toddling) over to the other side of the basement to play with legos with my cousin Matt. Of course, I didn't know his name at the time, but he was about my age and he had legos, so it was all good.

    That is my earliest memory. After that I remember a bunch of things. Day care: picking on an older kid named Reese, called him Reese's pieces and he'd chase my other cousin and I around a bit. Toddler memories are pretty few and far between relative to my other childhood memories, but there are still a substanstial number of them.

    So Dr Freude (sp?), what is the verdict?
  • Tough call what mine is. There's a huge number of events I can remember with exquisite detail (semi-eidetic memory), but the timeline loses cohesion. It's kind of weird. Ask me what's the earliest, and I can't really tell you. Ask me to describe an event, and I'll give you more detail than you'd think possible.

    When you ask for the earliest memory, half a dozen immediately popped to mind. I'm 21 (22 in February), and they're all from many years ago. Maybe it was the time I went to see my mother's cousin Allison. That event stands out because we stayed the night, and I woke up around 3am with her boyfriend's "pet" tarantula sleeping on my face.

    Maybe it was learning to count to 10 in French. I remember with great detail walking down 2nd Ave. in the small town I still live in, and having David, my nanny's boyfriend (now her husband), teaching me while we were walking to a soccer field where Sylvie (the nanny) was with my older brother, and I remember having a lot of trouble learning to pronounce "cinq".

    Maybe it was my first soccer practice, when I threw a temper tantrum and my dad pulled me from the field and took me home.

    Then there's a family dinner at my grandmother's, many years ago. My uncle had just returned from Korea (he worked, and still does, with Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and had been on the ambassadorial staff). I remember two things: first, my uncle brought me a jacket from the Soeul Olympics (was a satiny blue plush jacket that I wore for over a year before outgrowing it), and second, my grandmother's big dog, a mastiff named Maggie.

    All of these events happened around the same time in my life. But I can't, for the life of me, tell you what order they happened in. Memory's funny that way, I think. You have a lot of memories in your mind, but you have to be prompted. The question "what's your earliest memory" is loaded, because your earliest memory changes from moment to moment. Really, the only answer to that question is "5 seconds ago", because the remainder of your memories aren't currently on your mind. Memories aren't there unless they're prompted.

    You say you can only remember about 7 years back. If I were to ask you what the first Christmas gift you remember was, you could probably go back a lot farther than 7 years. What if I asked you about the first sports team you were on? It all comes flooding back if I ask you the right questions.
  • standing, holding on the rail. Mom came in the room, she was angry at me. She picked up the bottle and gave it to me. That is probably the earliest event. I do remember other times in the crib, the painted beeds, and the bambi on the headboard. I do also remember walking out by the mailbox in my diapers.

    I am in my late fifties, so that was more than a few years ago. i do remember the rag man and his horse drawn wagon. I also remember the old women in bonnets working their gardens.
  • Early childhood amnesia is pretty well discussed by neuroscientists. Not that that means they've got any excellent answers.

    The best one I've heard, expressed to me in some cognitive psychology course, is that accessing memories is facilitated by a better frame of reference, and our current frame of reference is so different from our early childhood, we are left unable to access the memories.

    I'm sure I'll gloss over important details, but: If you're hungry when you learn something, then it may be easier to recall that memory when you are hungry. This seems to be due to spreading activation. If memories, concepts, feelings, thoughts, smells, or anything else is linked in your mind, then it will be faster to access one if the other has been activated recently.

    So, since everything about us is so fantastically different from our childhoods (we can control our muscles properly, speak, see the world from 6', rather than 2', etc.), now we have no connection to those memories to exploit.

    Iduno. This was definitely not presented to me as a conclusive explanation, and I'm sure I'm missing parts. If you're really interested in the subject of memory, you should take a course on cognitive neuroscience or cognitive psychology. It was really difficult for me, but it was definitely the most rewarding subject I've ever learned about.
  • I had eye surgery at two and a half and remember the
    black rubber anesthesia mask and the sickly sweet
    ether. This was in '58 back when they still used that stuff.
  • Earliest memory (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MImeKillEr ( 445828 )
    Looking over a bay in Guam at the age of 18 months.

    I couldn't tell you what happened last week, but I remember seeing the water and the boats in the bay.
  • 10 months (Score:2, Interesting)

    I remember watching JFK's funeral on TV and my mom crying while we watched. At the time, I had no idea why it was so upsetting to see this procession with a horse drawn-buggy. I was about 10 months old then. Years later, I saw video of the funeral and recognized it.

    Maybe it's a manufactured memory, but I don't know how that would have happened.

    My next oldest memory was from when I was three or four years old.
  • My earliest memory by far was created when I was only a couple of months old, at most. I was being placed into a scale; I remember seeing my father looking down towards me and the doctor. What I remember most vividly (and probably the exceptional event that made me remember this event) was the metal scale was freezing cold (at least it felt like I was on my back on a plate of ice).

    My doctor had passed away when I was still little, and we have no pictures of him. Describing the scene, both my parents confirm the appearance of the doctor (I remember his face quite vividly) as well as my dad recalling that specific visit to the doctor once I had described the situation well enough. That memory of the cold scale is quite clear and complete.

    Another fairly early memory was probably a bit older. I was in the kitchen sink being washed. I splashed the water, and got some on my older half sister. I remember her face with a big frown looming closely and a loud, ominous "noooo!". :) I also remember seeing that I had splashed her right thigh, and her jeans were dark where they were wet, and a few details that identified that I was in the kitchen of my first house (which according to my parents we moved out of before I was two).

    I have a few minor recollections of that first house (I picked up a pencil, toddled to the table in front of the couch, and threw the pencil into my dad's coffee mug, much to my father's consternation), and all seem to be at moments when stress or a threat. The scale I was put on was _very_ cold, my sister was angry, realizing my father might be about to get mad.

    I don't think it has anything to do with language.
  • I got some 1MB 80ns 30 pin SIMMS.
  • Breakfast. (Score:3, Funny)

    by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @11:20PM (#4974455) Homepage Journal
    My earliest memory is breakfast this morning when I ate... Oh, damn it!
  • by simetra ( 155655 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @11:20PM (#4974456) Homepage Journal
    Son, I accidentally dropped you on your head when you were seven. That's why you can't remember anything prior. Sorry about that. If it's any consolation, you didn't have a very interesting childhood.

    Love, Dad.

  • by colmore ( 56499 ) on Saturday December 28, 2002 @11:42PM (#4974536) Journal
    I can penpoint the age of my first memory well. My mother was pregnant with my brother and sister, she was in bed under a big blue quilt. She read me the book "I can count to 100" and something about swamp animals in a treehouse.

    My brother and sister were born about a month before my third birthday, so this was during my late 2s.

    Everything after that is pretty clear, up till about age 9 or 10. I have hundreds of vividly clear images from my early childhood. Then around middle-school life started to suck so I blocked out about three years.

    And for everyone out there in their mid-teens: it gets better don't worry. wash your face and lose some weight though. yes, they all notice. and christ, don't let your parents pick out your clothing. yes, at your age stupid superficial things like this are key to happiness.

Overload -- core meltdown sequence initiated.