A lot of people seem to remember their childhoods or past events very clearly.
I’m not one of those people. I am a little concerned while I’ll say (write) this but I have a slight suspicion that about 70% of what I believe to be memories of past events in my life I actually made up in my mind or mixed with stories revolving around old photographs.
My parents were born in the late 50s and come from a small village in Turkey. I’m pretty sure there was no romantic story of how they met. It wasn’t an arranged marriage but maybe something similar, although, once they had met, so I remember my mom saying, they have had a crush on each other.
I was born and raised in Germany. My dad was a plumber and my mom worked at a factory. I was born around 6 pm - truly considerate of the fact that my parents were blue-collar workers.
On the contrary, some of my friends’ parents were doctors or architects, who had chosen each other out of conscious love when they were students in Paris or met at a charity event and one spilled caviar hors d’oeuvre over the other.
Having heard stories like that from friends when we were all in elementary school I must have felt pressured to come up with a romantic story for my parents.
When you are a child it’s hard to embrace your identity and feel proud of your parents for what they have accomplished in their rough lives. Instead, let’s be honest, most kids are embarrassed for whatever reason when it comes to their parents.
I was, back then and so I made up this story:
It was a nice day at a lively park somewhere in Turkey in the mid 70s. My dad was sitting on a bench reading a communist book. My mom approached the bench and was about to sit down when my father suddenly reached out with a startled sound trying to stop her.
It was too late. My mom had already turned around and set down on a gum someone had spat out there. My dad tried to explain to her what just happened and though she was shocked about probably having ruined her new skirt, she found it cute how clumsy and shy my dad was when he offered her his help. They chatted for a good while and promised each other to meet again at the same place the next day. And so they did …
I have to say, I am impressed by how smart I was in that age not to have added any glamor to the story or chose a fancier location like Rome or even Istanbul because nobody would have believed it.
I believed it though! For quite a long time I truly believed that that was the story of how my parents met. I don’t even know the truth.
I’m sure I asked my mom or my dad and I’m positive they told me something. I suspect though that I wasn’t impressed by it or that I didn’t like it and therefore created scenarios in my head.
How often have I done that in my life, I wonder? And what does that say about me?
That I’m a dreamer, a lunatic with a vivid mind, who needs help?
Then again, I don’t mind having a vivid imagination and making up stories. In fact, it’s what makes me me. I’m quite a visual person and if my brain could control a camera, lights, an orchestra and actors/actresses at the same time, I would produce a short video at least five times a day and present it to you like a gacha, a toy that comes out of a vending machine, with a flourish of trumpets.
I just wished that I could remember an event in the past without creating additional sub stories at the same time, just so I know what really went on in my life.
Do you know what I mean? I’ll never find out what I have deleted in my mind and have replaced it with.
I’ve started to question a lot of my memories:
Was “Sleeping Beauty” really the first movie I watched in the cinema?
Have I really stood in our door way with other kids from the neighborhood and said to St. Nikolaus, who was about to give us presents “Are you not Daniel, my aunt’s boss?” and then looked at my mom and the other kids who gazed at me in disbelief?
Did my grandma really tell me Turkish fairy tales when she tucked me into bed? Did she tuck me into bed?
I really don’t know for sure.
It’s funny though that on the other hand I can recall very clearly how something felt, smelled, or sounded:
I can still smell the burned plastic of the bottom of our home phone that the naughty son of one of our family friends put on the stove to see what happens to the phone when you turn the stove on.
When I put on sun lotion it always takes me back to a beach holiday in Turkey we once had and I can still remember how it felt to have warm sand between my toes.
I can also still feel how the floor was shaking and trembling when my aunt ran up to my cousin who started screaming and hitting because a relative had just told her that she won’t be able to go to her father’s funeral in Turkey. I can still hear her painful scream in my ears.
I don't think I made that up. Just that bit is a true memory!