Friday, May 14, 2010

Like the corners of my mind...

When I was a kid, I tried to wrap my head around the fact that, without memory, we had no way to measure reality.  How would I know I experienced something, because from the moment I experienced it, it became only a memory. Kind of a trippy concept if you think about it for too long.

My friend, Angie, and I both have odd memories, or so we thought as kids.  We find memories triggered by smells (Only to find out that is really not so uncommon afterall) but then also define things in terms of smells... for example, saying that something smells exactly like a new, plastic halloween mask, or like her parent's basement.  I can also time travel to songs, taking me right back to high school, or the last dance of 8th grade, or even to the last song of the last dance of 8th grade, and exactly how I felt and with whom I was dancing. (Rob Moor, I believe... and Lady in Red was the song... or maybe it was Freebird..... ok, maybe my memory is not as fool proof as I want to believe.)

It's an amazing thing, memory.  And mine used to be really, really good.  Oh, don't let the fact that I can remember who my dance partner was for a dance that happened nearly 25 years ago lead you to believe otherwise.. my memory over the last ten years has whithered away.  (My oldest is nearly 11.. see a coincidence?)

What I find, though, is this... I am a little like someone with a hoarding disorder when it comes to memory.  I know there is not possibly enough space in my brain to fit all the precious memories that I want to savor, and it bothers me.  I want them all, like a child sitting amidst piles of candy, in large, open-armed sweeping movement, trying to gather them all in.  I want them all.. the memories of each of my children's first smiles, of the way it felt when I had them fall asleep in my arms, the smell of the top of their little infant heads, their firsts of everything, every feeling, every moment. All of it.

Of course, while those memories are really in there somewhere, they are not accessible to me seemingly ever. Every now and again, something will trigger a memory, but overall, all those nuanced moments of every ordinary day are mostly lost.  It is why we take photos of the ordinary, and why I seem unable to delete many of them from the computer, because they allow me to hang on, precariously, to the memories contained within.

My dad used to say he refused to look back.  No sense in it, he'd say.  You learn what you need to learn from the mistakes you make and you move on toward the future.  I like his philosophy in theory, but I cannot ever seem to live it consistently.

What is it about motherhood that makes it so hard to live in the present, looking toward the future?


TKW said...

I think we grew up around the same time--many, many dances to Freebird. Music does, as you point out, have the ability to send us careening back in time to a moment, a boy, an outfit.

I'm a smeller, too. Is that weird? It's by far my strongest sense.

If you ever figure out why it's so hard to live in the present, will you send me the memo?

Justine said...

Memory - so powerful yet sometimes so elusive. I wish I could recall everything but I can't - and that's why I blog. What I really want to preserve, I put down in words (the best way I know how since I can't scrapbook). And isn't this what you're doing now? Maybe years from now, all these words you have created will provide the clarity you need from your memories.

At least I hope.

Great to be here from Momalom.

Anonymous said...

I time travel to songs, too. It's amazing to me the cues our brains make note of and the strange, wonderful ways those cues reappear ... As a mother, I'm just glad they do reappear and aren't lost forever (yet?)! =>

Rudri said...

I love the Lady in Red reference. It brings back memories of one of my friends who wanted that to be her husband-wife song at her wedding even though she was still a teenager.

I think we hoard memories because we just want to treasure every moment. And there your memories so who cares if you are wanting to save everyone of them?