I was born in an apartment in Colerain Township, Ohio — not literally in the apartment, but that’s where we lived until I was 3.
My earliest memory must’ve come at 1 or 2 years old. I know it’s an actual memory because we don’t have any home videos of it. Sometimes you think you remember something, but really you just remember watching the footage. This was an actual memory and there’s nothing really special about it besides the fact it’s my first memory.
I remember my mom’s stocky, light pink curtains hanging over the window; it cast a rosy glow over the room. I remember my sister’s princess fortress. I was hiding between the bed (also pink) and the far-side wall. I was naked.
If I do remember correctly, I was being mischievous. I wasn’t supposed to be running around the place naked, but there I was. Naked. I remember peeking above the bed just enough to reveal my forehead to see if mom had come looking for me. Sunlight filled the room. Salmon cotton candy, I’d call it. Not the smell, but the way it looked.
That was over 20 years ago.
I am 24 as of today. The idea of being 24 seems so old in my mind. Growing up, 24 means you’re grown up. You’re an adult. And that means you know everything. Even when I was 17 or 18, the age 24 sounded so mature.
I suppose I am mature. But it’s been a slow, gradual process — so slow nothing feels new. You only see how far you’ve come when you look back and reflect.
I bet it feels like this at 80, too.
I sat down and talked with my grandpa, an old timer from church, and my dad this past week. They’re 84, 62, and 58 respectively. All old as dirt. I asked each of them, in some way, how it felt to be old. And you know what they said?
“I just started feeling this old.”
That makes me think. That makes me think we never really feel what we are. Like we never really know what to make of ourselves. We’re a loose collection of experiences, memories, and fantasies; some vivid and whole, others distant and distorted. We only seem to have an idea, or simplified understanding, of who we are. Meaning is not always precise. Things aren’t always quantifiable and you can’t say with certainty how one event, or person, affected your past. Because you don’t know. We just go on living — we go on collecting and updating. We get old in the process.
What’s crazy is time isn’t even real… okay, time is real, but what is it? I was born a baby, spun around Earth 8,760 times, and now I’m “24.” I don’t know what I’m talking about dude.
Anyways, I don’t feel like what I am. Even in my first memory, I didn’t know what I was. I didn’t know I was misbehaving — I didn’t know I was naked. And maybe that’s exactly what it’s like to be human.