Memories Are Made of This

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If touch is my drug, then memories are my kryptonite.

I am an overthinker. I have always been an overthinker. As a child, I remember adults telling me, “Don’t think so much!” and wondering how they could ask that of me. I could no more control my thoughts than the weather. They rushed over me in a continuous wave of questions and hypotheticals.

Over the years I learned to stem the tide of thoughts when they got too much for me. I learned to put them away. Today, my mind is a hoarder’s attic, stuffed to the brim with ominously unstable stacks of thoughts and emotions and worries and passions and dreams and experiences and fears and imagination and memories.

I don’t know what other people do with their memories. My brother has somehow managed to purge all of his childhood memories … or lose them. I’m not sure which. My own seem to be (much like my real life belongings) stored in a state of organised chaos. I revisit them often. I turn memories over and over in my mind until the jagged feelings that used to jut from them are worn away, leaving the recollection itself smooth as a pebble. Easy to handle. Almost comforting.

Sometimes I forget memories only to find them years later, untouched, unexamined. When this happens, I’m always surprised to find the feelings that came with them are still there, unblunted, in the corner of my mind. I prick my fingers on the sharp points, and the unexpected sting of it startles me. My mind makes an immediate jump to hyperspace and I start overthinking again.

  • How did I forget this?
  • Is it even real?
  • Do the other people in the memory remember this?
  • Is it important?
  • Why do I only remember this now?
  • How many times have I examined this memory?
  • How many more times will I examine it before the feelings disappear?

Then I worry that when I’m finished turning it over and over, it will become another pebble: a skimmed pebble. It will bounce twice or three times on the surface of my consciousness and then sink to the depths. I’ll forget it for good.

Something about this, something about memories, makes me profoundly sad. It’s not nostalgia. At least I don’t think it is. Merriam-Webster defines nostalgia as:

“a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of

some past period or irrecoverable condition.”

I don’t long to go back. I don’t wish for a time-machine. It’s not the moment in the past I feel a strange yearning for, it’s the memory itself. I worry about my memories getting lost forever. I worry that I am altering them all the time until I can no longer trust which ones are true. I worry that I’ll smooth away all the edges and be left with flat, polished versions of every memory I’ve ever had. Easier to manage, yes, but also smaller. Diminished. Sanitised. Sterilised. Incapable of making me laugh or cry.

A forgotten memory found its way into my mind yesterday. It caught me so completely by surprise that a tear escaped and made a run for it down my cheek before I even had a chance to realise what I was thinking of. The instant rush of thoughts and feelings gave me a sentimental papercut. I sat, listening to music, pressing against the sharp ends the same way you use your tongue to press against a loose tooth. It hurt, but I didn’t stop. I couldn’t help it. The pain pleased me.

I examined the memory from every angle. I wondered if there was more to it that I had forgotten. I wondered who else remembered it. If they do, does it come tied to an emotion, or has time buffed away any inconvenient feelings?

If I am the only one who has kept it, does that make it more precious, or less?

The To Do List: Part 2

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It’s Friday. Or as some people insist on writing, “Fri-YAY!”

I am not feeling ‘yay’ about today. In fact, if today had a sound it would be more of a ‘meh,’ or an ‘argh,’ or even just a heavy, deeply frustrated sigh.

 If the past two weeks were being summarized by an action, it would be that of a dog turning around and around and around in an effort to get comfortable. I am still not comfortable. We’re still not fully unpacked from our move, my days seem to consist of lifting alternating kittens off the table, and my mattress has been trying to stab me in the night with its errant springs. A new bed is on the To Do List, but since I’m so far behind on checking things off, it might have to wait a while.

My home currently feels like one of those annoying puzzles you used to get in party bags as a child. The ones where you have to slide the pieces around until the smiley face comes together. I was always brutal at them. I would end up prying the pieces out in an effort to make it work but could never manage to put them back in, so the smiley face always ended up littered across the patio in tiny square pieces.

Which, now that I think about it, doesn’t bode well for my living space.

Currently there is too much stuff, and not enough storage. There is too much to do, and not enough time or energy. Every action feels like reaching the end of a particularly challenging Super Mario level only to be told Princess Peach is in another castle.

Deadlines I set myself a month ago have become elasticated, stretching like old gum to accomodate my slow trudge. So many things that I just want to be finished with still loom over me, casting an ever-darkening shadow of shame over me. Sun-seeking sourjourns set me back, yes, but so did a few (far less enjoyable and far more common) slumps in mood and motivation. Even this blog has run into a few brick walls this past month.

I’m pushing through it by focusing on the positive. At least one corner of my home is exactly the way I want it, which I find deeply soothing. Also, other than their aforementioned hard-headed insistence on exploring the dining table, the goofy goobers – Oscar and Maya – are being extremely well-behaved. I think they are even starting to like me. They have had neighbourcat landing parties a few times now and nobody has lost an eye. Almost two weeks in and they are still alive and thriving, which while not being a surprise (give me some credit), is at least a relief.

So it’s the end of the week. I hope everyone has something fun lined up over the next few days. I hope the clouds lift, literally and metaphorically, and I hope I finally reach that damn Princess Peach castle.

Whew, Friday.

We made it.