When I look back through my old family photo albums, I find it difficult to recall
much more than what is pictured in their pages. The dated clothing, the people, the
locations... all of these are quite visible, and therefore appear memorable, but the fact is,
without the visual prompt, I probably wouldn't recollect many of the pictured events at all.
Things that made no major impact on my life remain simple illustrations in the back of my
mind or images in the album tucked away in the back of an unused closet.
Looking at a picture of my fifth birthday party, I can see who was there, what the
cake looked like, the gifts I received, but I can't remember much else. Other times in my
childhood I remember rather vividly, however. It's funny how memory is selective like
that, how certain things can be completely retold down to every last detail. Often,
however, a simple prompt can trigger an outpouring of memories that may have otherwise
remained hidden deep in the mind. A sight, a sound, perhaps a smell...all of these things
can trigger a deluge of retrospection.
We have a home movie of this party...it is grainy and of short duration, but it's a
great visual aid to my memory of life at that time. And it is in color - the only complete
scene in color I can recall from those years.
-Judith Ortiz Cofer, "Silent Dancing"
In her book "Silent Dancing," Cofer recounts the memories of her childhood
induced while watching this short piece of film. Each scene brought about more memories,
as colors and scents of the past were relived through it. Because the film was silent,
however, those parts of the past had to be made up...explored by her.
When I think of the things that remind me of my childhood and development, one scene in
particular stands out. I experienced more learning and exploration on the playground at
age eight than any other time I can recall in my life. The many things I learned still ap... Continues...