I have a notoriously bad memory even now, and I have no recollection of it ever having been any better. Thinking back, I have reasonably clear and complete memories for only the past three years or so, becoming increasingly spotty and episodic the older they are. On the far end, I also am familiar with a set of stories about by infancy that my parents have told me. It is somewhere in this border between implanted stories and fuzzy memories that I look in trying to find my earliest memory.
What I come up with is a memory from preschool, actually a constellation of memories surrounding that particular one, from a specific, short time period. At some point, my preschool class was presenting a play about the fall, including a song that, for whatever reason, I recall describing the downward flow of sap within the trees in preparation for winter. I also remember ultimately missing the performance because of a family vacation, to go camping in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas to a favorite campground named Gunner's Pool (adjacent to a much inferior campground, Barkshed, that my parents had dubbed "Barkshit.").
I remember a lot more about the campground, but over a number of years we went there quite frequently, and so those memories, while perhaps they actually did occur, are suspect in conjunction with this particular episode. However, what of the accuracy of the core of the memory? I'm tempted to argue that the mere fact of remembrance is potent evidence for accuracy, as indeed it seems to me, but I know, from reading, that I am in all likelihood reconstructing this memory in some altered form. I have little reason to doubt the larger components of the memory (as I will later show), but some of the details, as well as the overall timeline, are suspect.
Why do I think the camping interfered with the play? Perhaps my status as a part-time student of the school prevented my being in the play, even though I was there for some rehearsals. Maybe the camping trip , then, was just pleasant, and so I remember it. Or perhaps it was unpleasant, causing an emotional connection with...