Friday, May 14, 2010

Memory Outside of Memory

I remember her playing with Mane when we came to pick Mango up from school, and when we drove home Mane said, "I wish Vespera was my sister." Did she know? Is there a memory outside of memory for the things that haven't happened yet? Not one month later we'd be in the process of adopting her. I didn't know that day. Mango didn't know. Mane, at 4 years old, surely didn't know.

I remember back, 4 years prior, my pregnant self walking in a gently falling December snow and thinking that Mane would be born in the snow. I shook my head at myself. Mane was due 4 months from then - in late April. Even in Minnesota, that would be late for snow. She was finally born - ten days past her due date - in early May following a late spring snowstorm! How could I know? I didn't know. And yet I knew...as though I remembered already.

Memories, for me, are something mystical. Sometimes we remember before, sometimes after, sometimes differently than what someone else remembers, sometimes ALL the details, and sometimes only fragments. Sometimes we remember nothing but the feeling, or the smell, or the music. Our memories store themselves in the time of year or in a type of weather, in favorite foods, and in kinds of flowers. And, I feel that even when we can't remember, we have a certain type of memory. Our bodies know things that our mind does not, stores things in our hands and feet, in our arms and legs and the smalls of our backs. So, we remember.

Sometimes I want to make myself remember. And so I write things down and take a lot of pictures. I close my eyes and try to freeze-frame the thoughts and feelings, colors and textures of the moment. Then I discover that memory doesn't work that way, will still come and go as it pleases, with the smell of lilacs on the breeze and changing color of the leaves in the autumn. As much as I promise myself that I will remember forever, I still pick up an old piece of writing and am surprised by the things that happened to me.

Perhaps we'd be crushed if we remembered all the pieces of ourselves all at once, if we could remember everything that ever happened all at the same time. The present would be drowned by the past. Instead we call up only the memories we need to inform the present moment. And then, occasionally, we are blessed by the sweetness of an unbidden memory, the softness of a baby cheek, the smell of old perfume in a box of letters...or, perhaps, something that is yet to come in the gently falling snow.


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This post is part of Momalom's Five for Ten


7 comments:

  1. "Perhaps we'd be crushed if we remembered all the pieces of ourselves all at once, if we could remember everything that ever happened all at the same time."
    I think that's so very true. And yes, memory and the mind are incredibly magical things.

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  2. I certainly believe in the mystical power of memories.

    Lovely, lovely, post.

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  3. "Our memories store themselves in the time of year or in a type of weather, in favorite foods, and in kinds of flowers." This is so true. My other favorite line in this piece is the one Corrine pulled out.

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  4. So much truth here. I also believe we would be crushed if we recalled everything we've lived. Let us retain what uplifts us, and hang on to the outline of what teaches us.

    Lovely post.

    (Here from Momalom)

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  5. BigLittleWolf, What's interesting is that I didn't mean so much that we should hold on to the good and let go of the bad, but that even if it's all good we cannot hold on to everything. I agree with you, though. If we get to pick and choose, we should hold on to that which uplifts.

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  6. Memories are certainly mystical. They have the ability to transport you to that place in the past, in your mind and your heart. Nice way to think about the subject.

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  7. You have said this so beautifully. For me there is a sadness here. But a good sadness. A sadness acknowledged. Thank you for sharing these truths.

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It's always good to hear from you!