It’s funny how sometimes in your mind you run into your past.
Those bits of memories are like your next door neighbors — they’d been there the whole time, but when you come face to face from time to time you still feel a little surprised. Oh hey, hello you, fancy seeing you here, you from just next door.
And then you wonder why you don’t interact more often.
And you don’t realize how much of a difference they make in your life.
Like the pots of grass he plants to keep his soil from drying out. They’re weird to look at. But strangely comforting because I don’t think my parents would ever do that. They remind me of different forking paths just outside our door.
Sometimes, till we meet these, we end up living with imposter memories. Maybe kind of like the Rain Man. It’s funny how easily we assimilate false memories into statements we assert as truths about ourselves. It’s incredulous how often I pass statements I genuinely believe to be true about myself when in fact they aren’t. Like for the longest time, I went around telling people how strange it is I’m majoring in Literature since I never really read much and I was never really into reading. Curious that, most people seemed to imply. Well, I found it curious myself.
Then out of nowhere, today, a flood of memories came back to me. My mama reading a book with me every night when I was growing up, my polishing off the Boxcar Children series, pouring over the Little House on the Prairie, and Ramona Quimby’s life. The Newbery Award books I had to finish for Literature when I was homeschooled (they were often devastating…and for some reason often about God). Then when I was 12 there was the first book I ever bought, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, and that set me on a Picoult craze. I attempted (and mostly failed) to read The Lord of the Rings after falling for the movie. But because I was such a show off I’d pick out random trails of Tolkien’s descriptions and write them in my description bank book and use them for my essays. Those poor few sentences must have been awful embarrassed, royalty sticking awkwardly out from the mud. I don’t mean to ramble on, but that’s how the memories came. Books lined up to knock me on the head. The Cricket in Times Square, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, The Twenty One Balloons, Akin to Anne, all awaiting their turn: “Pardon me miss, do you not remember my delightful company that you should now disown these memories?” I was rather abashed but all the same, incredibly happy, for I had discovered my old friends and old adventures. A gathering of old friends, as you know, always brings back good memories, much embarrassment, and a few good laughs.
Memories that, have always been but next door and you’re surprised at your surprise in running into them. Memories that open up forking paths. What strikes me here, is the way these memories keep. Like a room filled with slivers of mirrors of all shapes hung from the ceiling on thin, silvery threads, moved to perfect pirouettes in the wind. A kaleidoscope. You walk into a room like that and you finally find yourself and yet you’ve never felt so scattered and elusive. Many explanations unfold but you’ve never felt so incomprehensible. Everything seems so crystal clear, vistas of diamonds, satin light, cut stone. Yet you’ve never been so illegible. A bit like standing on a beach.
These memories of books each a mirror, a reflection and a portal all at once; now opaque glass, now translucent skin. Books that open up whole other worlds I used to dance in, fight in, cry in, laugh in. My mind had always wandered into foreign places, breathed in the murmuring, fragile air, tasted that slight hint of cinnamon. Odd.
I read somewhere that human beings can survive on borrowed memories by sharing in their hope. That’s what books are, really. Borrowed memories, shared emotions, hope an easyover-spread. I don’t know why I stopped reading. Maybe I just got busier. But I think a part of it is I started sharing in too much of the despair as well and I had to close some of those doors. After which, I never went looking for any new ones. It’s no wonder though, that I started feeling like my world was shrivelling up. For the longest time, I stopped living in so many different shades of different colors.