Strands of Memory

Memories, or even adventures, are tricky things. I was talking about this not that long ago with my friend Pete. Friend being a rather loose term as I remember clearly how we met and it’s hazy to him. Ironic, I know. We were talking about what makes a moment stick in your head for the rest of your life. As we are both young, the “rest of your life” is a vague concept that means before old age sets in at 32.

Pete says that his memories generally include family or loved ones. The golden moments of his life have all happened with a member of that set with him. He remembers trips and gatherings. He also agrees with me when I say that golden moments can’t always be set up. Sometimes they just happen. He also thinks that memories can happen in the every day, the little things that make life rich. You don’t have to go off and do something crazy. A good memory could be spending a day with someone special. I think he’s a very relational person and that having sisters has made him very wise.

Some of my most cherished memories contain a sense of danger or unexpected. Something that pulls a moment out of the ordinary and into the realm of the extraordinary. Like hiking a few miles under the summer sun with my cousins, looking for a place to put in our RiverRats or blown up inner tubes. Once we’ve put in, we bounce down rapids like balls in a pinball machine, hoping that we won’t get caught on a submerged branch. We usually end up slightly sunburned from our hours on the water but we have fun. One time, a deer leaped out of the grassy knoll on the side of the river, sprinting across the shallows right in front of us before disappearing into the long grass on the other bank.  Another good memory  involved climbing out an old window, tiptoeing across a roofline, and playing an impromptu game of soccer on the roof of one of the buildings downtown at dusk. Bad memories tend to include pain. Who cheerfully recalls the day that they broke their arm? I vividly recall a doctor taking a wire brush to a second-degree burn on my foot. No warning. No pain medicine. Not a good memory.

Then there are the random memories – the things that stick in your head even though there’s no reason to remember them. The color of your saltwater sandals when you were a child. Seeing a little girl in a red coat, standing with her grandmother in the dark subway, just a little away from the crowds as if she didn’t belong there and she knew it. The time when you broke a mixing machine when you were trying to make gingerbread cookies. Who you had a crush on in third grade. The first time you were on an island. Those are the little things that you have no real reason to remember.

Memories make up the story of you are, like natural pearls on a strand. There aren’t two strands that are identical. Some pearls are more luminous than others. Some are shaped funny. Others are unusually large. All are worth something. You can’t chuck off the ugly ones – you need them to make the ones next to them appear more brilliant. You may not like each one but you love them as a whole. Together, they make up who you are. The terrible thing is that you can break the strand. Once your brain starts to forget, there’s no going back. So remember while you can.

One Response to “Strands of Memory”
  1. Hani says:

    Yeah! Let’s remember good memories while we can!

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