Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Memories, (Kind of) Light the Corners of My Mind

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken. .

          "Nothing is Lost"
             Noel Coward

Really, Noel? Not me.

My older sister claims to remember when she first learned to read (precociously early, of course) and the day our parents brought me home from the hospital. As an older sister, I realize it's her duty to be superior to me in all things, even recollections of our childhood. However, this isn't much of an achievement considering how god-awful my memory is. 
            My husband begins almost all references to our shared experiences with "you probably don't remember, but. . . "  As a result, he's in charge of our marital history: what year my father was born, when Aunt Clarabelle died, how many semesters our daughter was a resident assistant at Northeastern. Thank God we've been happily married all these years. A divorce would literally eradicate 44 years of my life.
            In my writing group, which I've been with for . . well, I don't recall how long - most of the members are working on memoirs. I find all of the writers truly impressive, not only  because they've all had really interesting lives, either through colorful families, careers, or travel, but they can actually remember what happened.
            Perhaps my expectations are too high. Maybe everyone sees their past the way I do, brief scenes that are suddenly illuminated and then just as suddenly plunge to darkness. Scenes that, like dreams, leave me trying to grab hold of them before they disappear, without reaching completion.
            Is it any wonder that I write fiction, creating my own memories.
            If I don't like them, I can just edit.  


  1. Fiction sounds like the answer. My brain is cluttered with exact memories and it is no real help with everyday living. We work with what we have. You have much more freedom--enjoy.

  2. In college, I had friends who could remember what classes they took two years before. I couldn't remember what I took the quarter before...and I really didn't care.

    Do you have a lot of mind chatter? I think that is what affects my memory. I'm not focusing on the task at hand.

  3. I compare my memory to the falling stars from the asteroid belt. A flame, extinguished. Occasionally I even call it "sieve for brains." I carry a pen in my car, just to write things on my hand.

  4. Just think, though. You could write whatever you wanted as your memoir - do all the things you always wanted to do, and then just pretend that's exactly how you remember it ...

    1. Genius, Fran.
      (Or to show the power of the comma -) Genius Fran!


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