I'm Abe Wolfgang, an Electrical Engineer, writer, Father, husband, and full-time lover of story. I blog about those stories, how they impact us as humans, and why they are important. Occasionally I write my own as well.

My Earliest Memories

The thing about trying to remember all the way back to Kindergarten is that it is very difficult. I don't have much memory from that time, and what I do is all very fuzzy and disjointed. You see, my parents weren't wealthy, and I grew up in a particular time period when technology was just starting to become affordable to capture moments and memories. So we had a few home videos of my childhood that I was able to watch and remember, but they were only a few. Other than that we had family pictures, and some candid photos of various life events that had occurred. I do not blame my parents for not having cameras or video recorders. Our small collection of memories was not particularly their fault, but merely a continued shift in our culture to document all life events. Besides, if I had been born only a few years earlier, we would have had even less photography and videography. Just because I have a phone/camera/computer in my pocket and can take all sorts of candid videos of our little boy does not mean that my parents should have done the same for me. I can even imagine little Evan being grown and wondering why his parents failed to capture more 3-D holographic recordings of his childhood (or something else ridiculous like that). This was a rabbit trail.

Kindergarten it is then. As I stated above, I don't really remember much. I do have a few vivid memories though. The first memory I have is of my first day at school. I was so concerned about how I would find my locker when I arrived, since I lacked confidence in my reading abilities at the time. So I practiced writing my name on a sheet of paper at home, and even had my mom pack that piece of paper in my backpack so that I could match the name on the paper to the one on the locker (you know, so I wouldn't accidentally use someone else's space... I was considerate like that). My dad, my sister and I all walked over to Ella White Elementary school together that morning. Since we lived right across the street, this was a common occurrence. We lived in a small parsonage next to the Alpena Free Methodist Church, in Alpena Michigan, where my dad was pastor. The church also happened to be on the intersection of two of the more busy streets in town, so we were not allowed to make the trip to school without supervision. When we finally arrived at the school, I decided that I was smart enough to find my name on my own. I decided against referring to the paper and boldly walked up and down the aisles of lockers. I was so proud of myself when I was able to find my locker without any outside assistance. The paper remained safely in my backpack, and I had something to brag to my mother about when I made it home.

The other memory that I have from kindergarten is some sort of gift exchange party. We all brought in various toys/gifts to school one day, and after the teacher had arranged our chairs into a circle we each placed our toys under them. We then played a quick game of musical chairs, where whatever chair you ended in dictated the toy that you won. Well, the toy that I brought in was one of those cool, collapsible plastic swords. It was multi-colored and tons of fun. I dreamed about playing with that sword all day, and made it my unspoken mission to end up in the same chair that I started in so that I could win my own prize. Clearly the teacher had it out for me because I did not end up in the same chair. The music ended, I sat down, and I turned to look at the lucky kid who had just won the sweetest prize in the game: that plastic sword. I could only hope that he would enjoy it as much as I would have. I didn't even look under my chair. I knew that whatever was under there would not be as good as what I could have had. All I could do at that moment was cry, and cry I did. I do not fully remember what happened next, but my mom did show up to comfort me since the teacher was unable to. They may have called her to come over, and may have even consulted me before doing so, but I'm pretty sure that I was inconsolable. She was able to finally get me to just look at the prize I had won, Hot Wheels, and I am sure that there was some resolution to the story, but that is all that I truly remember.

It is a little strange that these are the memories that I have of this time, and that they are so vivid. Why do these stick with me and nothing else? I consider my memory to be somewhat weak, and I have a hard time remembering many details from my own past, but it is interesting to ponder why there are certain memories that take precedence in the mind over others. Perhaps those moments were the most proud and the most sad that I had been that year. Perhaps I remember those occasions because they both happened around a fairly large group of my peers, and that might just be where some of my natural introversion comes from. Who knows? I am not a psychiatrist and I cannot claim to know even the first thing about my own mind, so I am not qualified to answer.

Other than that I have various memories of playing outside with the neighbor kids, which we did a lot of. This was all before video games and computers were common, so my siblings and I would mostly play outside and exercise our bodies and imaginations to keep ourselves entertained. Also, the activities would happen outside so that the house could remain in some sort of decent shape. Believe me, we did our fair share of rough-housing. Still, I know that it was good for us, and I am glad that I grew up in a time where we had no real option of just wasting the day in front of a TV screen. I'm glad that I learned how to cultivate my imagination, and that I stayed healthy through activity. So, in reality, I am thankful that my parent's lived the way they did, without all that extra stuff. I would gladly give up a few more home videos of me as a kid for the quality of life that I was able to enjoy. So, thanks mom and dad. Thank you for my childhood, and for making me get out of the house to play.

James Straver - A Series

Why Writing?