Note: These are some of the things that didn’t make it into my ‘I don’t remember’ freewrite. I’ve edited a little for clarity and spelling.
I don’t remember even walking down to the boat that night. I was there, and he was there, and I saw the orange halogen streaming through the porthole, and I thought, “This is now.” I do have a fondness for Vikings, after all.
I don’t remember the first time I wondered about all the things in this world that we make up, spaceships and therapy and all those things that distract us from the fact that we have to eat and sleep and breathe and poop, and when it comes down to it, we are little more than monkeys who have a lot of gadgets. Monkey James Bonds.
I don’t remember the last time I told my mother what I was really thinking. Except for the ‘I love you’s at the end. Is it really honesty if the other person in in a coma? I wasn’t there so I don’t know who came to take her away. Her spirit, that is. Maybe Grandpa. I’d like it if it was Grandpa and Sam. She would only fight with Grandma, say she wasn’t done, cling and cling to the nothing that was left. But she did adore her father.
I don’t remember the first time I tried lemon ice cream, only that I was content to walk up the hill to the Italian deli run by Koreans to get some almost every time I went to the library that one summer. Was I 11? I don’t know.
I don’t remember the first time I set foot in a library, only that I love libraries, big academic ones, little branch ones, rural ones where there’s a suspiciously well-thumbed copy of “Still Life With Woodpecker”, yellowed and taken out again and again.
I don’t remember how we used to be able to walk to the general store, along the twisty path and under the cedar and the arbutus that grew on the rocky face, orange lichen under our feet and the warm sleepy smell of pine needles in the sunshine. I don’t remember.
But that’s the point of life. There are only so many things a person can remember, and as we travel through life, we will remember new things and faces and feelings. I remember the chill in the air at pre-dawn Gatwick. I remember an afternoon on the beach in Wales. I remember a conversation about not getting scurvy. I remember the curve of my goddaughter’s cheek as she smiles. I remember how bright the moon was that night at camp, I could read by it, and I remember the warmth of the fire. I remember the myth of Icarus.
We shouldn’t think of the not-rememberings as things we lose. Just like we wear out clothes, we wear out memories. And we have new ones to fill up the space.