Memories are funny things.
We kind of think of them like Polaroids, like snapshots frozen in time.
But they’re nothing like that. The slippery eels of memory distort, stretch, and shrink as they slide through the murky subconscious of our brains.
What you remember is a belief of a memory–“It happened like this…” but then, someone else tells you about the same moment, and it’s a different memory. Because it’s not a moment frozen in time, but a remembered perception of a moment that’s now faded and rusty, like the car left in the field for a decade or two.
I am currently at the age my aunt was when she died. When she passed, I was in my early twenties, and forty-two seemed a million miles down the road. Now, as I sit here giving advice to our adopted daughter who is my age when my aunt did the same for me, I wonder if she hears me. What her perceptions will be of this time in her life.
I know now that I never really knew my aunt, because when you’re twenty the world is all about your own oyster and all its dramas. I wish I could go back and really talk to her, really understand who she was. She was an artist, a journalist, a whizz with numbers, a smoker, a drinker. The number of people who turned out for her funeral was stunning; we had no knowledge of the life she lived beyond our little family unit.
My memories are sepia tinged and worn at the edges now, and I question them because I can see that I’m only remembering the moments through the me-colored lenses of a messed up twenty-something. The same goes for the moments with my parents and situations. How much of that memory is shaped by perception rather than what actually happened? Can we remember without putting all our ‘stuff’ on top of the memory? Or is that simply not possible? The fact that someone can remember the same moment you’re remembering, but completely differently…does that make all our memories both valid, and invalid?
Random meanderings for the day as the holidays approach, bringing with them a host of bittersweet and weirdly shaped memories.