foundational memories

by Kristen

My parents and I watched a recording of a wedding from 1986. I don’t have a single memory from the day—I was the feverish five-year-old flower girl who slept through the entire reception in the arms of relatives—so viewing the video was like experiencing it for the first time.

But as we watched footage of guests greeting the bride and groom I often recognized people before my parents did. It surprised me, but maybe it makes sense.

I picture people how they looked in my earliest memories of them. I will always envision my mom with her hair style from my toddler years—a feathered pixie cut—and it will always be my favorite. My great aunts and uncles will look the way they did on the Fourth of July years and years ago no matter how many other settings I saw them in. I will forever see my friends from band as they were when we met in junior high—not as they look at our annual Christmas gatherings twenty-odd years later. They’re foundational images embedded deep inside me.

So as faces framed with big hair and mid-80s finery filled the screen, they fit in the sweet spot of my memory . . . while they fell somewhere in the hazy, middle years of lengthy friendships for my parents.

But that’s how my mind seems to work. The day-to-day moments blur into a collage of encounters difficult to sift back out and anchor in chronological order. The initial impressions never fade away, though time and experience continue to color them.




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