Remember When? –
‘Do you remember when…?’
I spent most of my early years asking that question, and it usually referred to something that happened a few days, weeks or a month ago.
‘Can you believe,’ I would say incredulously to my sister, ‘some people can remember back ten years. I haven’t even been alive ten years.’ Well, I can remember more than ten years back now, guys.
I remember with full emotion. A surround-sound of flooded energy. No smell. Just sound, light and feeling. The joy of receiving a new toy; its wooden blocks for building a farmhouse all kept in a bright red box (farm animals sold separately). The sadness of a dog run over by a lady with dyed blond hair, wearing a pink top. The smoke from her cigarette curling up towards the sky as she gave her apology at our front door.
I find that I can bring back the past in a way that time doesn’t heal. The giggling teenage laughter comes just as quickly today as it did thirty-six years ago. The tears flow just as salty as they did when I was told that my school friend had passed away in a shooting accident.
My delinquent memory adds to the struggle of giving up bits and pieces of collected possessions. The shoes I loved to wear at every party through-out my last year of school can’t be released. That bit of paper with a smiley on it that Bobby gave me while backpacking in Europe, must not be thrown out. A book, slipped under my door on my twenty-first birthday sits proudly on a shelf in the house I will not want to give up when it is time to move on. I attach to things and people and hang on for dear life. The friends I make, the loves I call to myself, and the stories that I gather all collect in my psyche refusing to give up their space.
Sometimes with an added perception of time, the memories take on a different meaning, reframed by new explanations or a different logic. When I was four years old, there was a boy with black hair and a blue t-shirt who thought he could fly off the table. Timothy stood up, and in the deepest little boy voice he had, he shouted, ‘Look at me fly.’ (I am gleefully laughing with anticipation as I write this.) We all stopped and stared at him, and for a second, we believed he could do it. We believed he would spread his wings and take off towards the ceiling of the Lion-Room at nursery school. But then, of course, we saw the blood. That day, I went home and told my family about the boy who thought he could fly. Timothy went home with a bruised ego and six stitches to his head. I am sure that Timothy’s memory of the event differs from mine. Our viewpoints differed.
Memory has been my nemesis and my saviour. Often people are protected by forgetfulness. But for me, there is no dulling of the moment, so I have used it to write my book. I have relied heavily on my emotional recollections. There are bound to be some things that I recall differently from the people I write about. Well, just like the story of Timothy, I can only write from my outlook. So here I sit, editing and purging and delving deeply into my head, in the hopes that I can understand and put forward an acceptable picture. I look to the past, I look to yesterday, I use what I can to make sense and meaning. Maybe some of you can find a good reason to “remember when” too..