When does existence begin?

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By Kelly Dolejsi

Everyone has his or her very earliest memories. Author Augusten Burroughs purports to remember lying in his crib, a helpless and anxious infant. But for most of us, life seems to have begun when we were toddlers.

Before age 2 or 3, I remember nothing. I could have been asleep.

I could have been dead. My mother disagrees, but I know that “I” was not there.

I didn’t exist until one very bright moment when I was sitting in the very back of my mom’s Ford Mustang.

I didn’t know it was a Mustang. I didn’t know we were driving through Arizona on something called a highway. I had no idea what a car seat was, or whether I had one.

I was just sitting on my little travel potty while looking through the car’s broad rear window at the man driving the car behind us.

I don’t know what it says about me that my first memory is that of going to the bathroom in public. Probably the reason is pretty benign. Using the potty was likely one of the first things I was really proud of learning and I might remember this particular usage because I was showing off for a stranger.

“Hey!” I might have been saying in my head. “Top this!”

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