Do You Remember?
(or how I get lost on memory lane)
Trying to recall my earliest memories always leaves me with the question if I can even be sure which one is the first. There are a couple of them competing for first place – pun intended, but I can’t be sure.
Sharing some random memories I DO recall. Isn’t it weird that a lot of memories seem to only be there because there was a picture taken once? I have to say I am sorry I don’t have anymore pictures available to show, except for the couple displayed below. But the pictures that were taken, are in my head, even if the actual event isn’t 😳
I was a pretty chubby baby – almost 4,5 kg at birth – and when I started to walk, I was pretty bow legged too. I can see a picture in my head, where I am walking through the aisle during a wedding and believe me I am not exaggerating. I do have this one picture though, with my parents, where we just left that same wedding (not that I can actually remember it) and you can see chubby me:
I believe my earliest memory is one that goes back to when my Mom was about to give birth to my sister – the youngest in our fam. Mom was on her bed, which was elevated as was custom – not sure if they still do that to be honest. This made the bed look a mile high, simply because I have had to be really small at that time, I wasn’t 2 years old yet, looking up at my Mom, who was lying way up above, where I could hardly see her.
While trying to take a peek, the nurse, perfectly dressed in a uniform befitting that time: blue dress plus white apron and cap, sent me away. Calling me by an old Dutch name ( for you Dutch peeps: Kaatje Keutel 😉), which I can’t properly translate unfortunately, but she meant something like: ‘out of my way, urchin’. Btw, she said this in a loving way, just so we’re clear. It’s kind of amazing, I don’t seem to have a lot of memories of what happened after that, until the time my sister was about 2 years old herself and she got hold of my hair, trying to pull as much of it in one go… How the mind works…
My Mom used to be a hairdresser before she got married and she would curl my hair – which was long – for every special occasion. I can only tell from pictures, she made me sit down for what felt like hours and apply the really old fashioned curlers. It must have taken some time for my hair to dry, but it left me with truly lovely corkscrew curls. There was this one specific picture of me sitting on their bed, baby sister on my lap and curls all over, meaning, she did this when I was still a toddler myself. I never asked her if I was that kind of child to be sitting quietly for the time she needed…
I do remember the place we were living in, it was a large apartment – but again, I was small – where we kids (4 of us) could easily play hide and seek. We could run around the place, turning in circles around the living room, through the hallway. I’m sure it drove my parents crazy sometimes, though I don’t recall that either. They must have been cool with our antics, I’m pretty sure I did not possess the same patience when our kids were the same age.
When I was a little older, I was allowed to play outside. Thinking back, this must have taken some major letting go by my parents, since we lived on the 4th floor, which meant I had to take the elevator. Furthermore, the closest playground was a couple of blocks away, so I was supposed to stay close to my brothers. But I distinctly remember playing with my own friends, it’s a miracle I even had some.
One of those – don’t remember a face let alone a name lol – invited me to her birthday party. That was the first party I ever went to and we watched ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The reason I do remember this, was because I thought it was pretty scary… The way she kept growing and wasn’t able to get out of there… I never wanted to see that movie again, so I am still not sure how the story goes.
We were living at the edge of Haarlem and behind our flat were some meadows with a couple of little streams. Perfect for us to just hang around and either go fishing or catch some tadpoles, mind you, I would leave that ugly business to (br)others. Brrr. Years later, I caught a scent in a very small village we were living in, after coming back from Spain. I can’t even describe it, but it instantly brought me back to the meadows in Haarlem. That’s another amazing thing our brain seems to do, well, mine does: specific smells or a specific song, can trigger something from the past, though I am not even always sure, what it is exactly.
At one point I was allowed to walk to preschool by myself, but only the last part. My Mom would wait at the beginning of the street where the school was located to see me off and when returning, she would be waiting at the same spot to take me home. The one thing from preschool that stayed with me, was the fact that my teacher seem to never be able to pronounce my name correctly. However, she was so lovely, I didn’t mind that much. After that, my name has been butchered many, many times, sometimes by far less lovely people 😂
When I was old enough to go to primary school, I entered this temporary wooden unit, in which there was a large wooden easel. It displayed ‘aap-noot-mies’, at that time the Dutch way to teach young kids the alphabet. Funny enough, the easel must have been the only thing that really made an impression. Then again, within a couple of months, we moved away, to the village up north, where I spent most of my childhood. The school I went to, disposed of the old wooden reading tools and used the ‘modern’ plastic ones, of which we all had our own box. Upgrade indeed.
Before Haarlem, we lived in Sneek, where I was born. Since a big part of my fam still lived there, we used to go visit regularly, which meant a couple of hours drive about every weekend or so. We also kept attending the church there and I cannot really say my memories of that one are very enlightening. Us kids could choose to attend Sunday school, but that wasn’t really fun either, since we weren’t there often enough to really connect with the other kids and we hardly understood their dialect. I know, this sounds awful, but in fact it was just boring… Fortunately we did found happier churches when we were older and I even became a Sunday school teacher myself, of which I do have fond memories 😉
We would especially visit Sneek, during a festival week in August, in which my birthday was ‘celebrated’. Knowing how challenging it can be to travel with small kids, this really never seemed a problem, since we would also drive to Spain for holidays. I’m telling you; the older I get, the more respect I have for everything my parents undertook with four young kids.
On one of our trips to Spain, the windshield got hit by a stone and so we stopped aside the road. I recall the real fun part, where we were forced to stay the night in a hotel, while the car was being fixed. I never in my young life, had the pleasure before and it was an adventure! We shared one very big room and it was all so different from any place else we ever lived or stayed… Unfortunately the next day the car was fixed and we were off to Spain. You would think that would be the best thing ever, but no…kids…don’t even ask about that holiday, I couldn’t tell you.
Another very vivid memory I have, must have been from when I was not yet 4 years old and got left in a big shopping mall in Rotterdam. We arrived with 3 cars full of family – I think it was the first mall ever in The Netherlands. On the way home they were all thinking the same thing: Wieneke is most likely in one of the other cars. I had my very own Home Alone moment right then and there, though I guess I would have preferred to be left at home. Fortunately a very nice lady (?) brought me to security. Eventually, they did come back to pick me up, after already being well on their way home. Oopsies.
It must have been around that same age, when our family pictures were taken by a professional photographer. It seemed I was never fond of having my picture taken and my attitude was less than agreeable, talking waaay less. This often showed on the pictures of course and after I overheard one of my uncles mention, somebody should do something about that – he was obviously annoyed with me – I kind of vowed to myself I would better my attitude. Yeah, it’s why they say you should never eavesdrop, you might not like what you hear. Don’t think I actually managed to keep that vow though 😂 It’s Just My Face. Haven’t spoke to that uncle for years either.
I wish I could say writing about these random, early memories, are triggering others, but no such luck. It feels like a string with all kinds of different beads randomly laced together. The last time I met with my oldest brother, we were talking about the past and it was most interesting to hear he remembered certain events way different than I do. He also came up with stuff I totally forgot about and vice versa. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
I don’t know if it is just my memory that is so lacking, or if I have blocked a lot of stuff from the past. I find it interesting when I hear people mention, they know exactly what they did at a certain age. The only way I would remember a certain age, is because something really remarkable happened, but that would just be the one event. Still I count myself lucky with the ones I do recall, since they’re not half bad. And I do remember vaguely, that my 16th year was pretty cool…😇
Do You Remember?
Wishing y’all a Wonderful Weekend, time to make some new memories ❤