Friday, February 12, 2010

The Things We Keep

It has always been funny to me to think about the memories that we hold onto. There have been times in my life where I purposely said to myself "remember this," and I have, but I think there are many more times I've tried to imprint something within my head that just didn't stick. Some moments are like smoke, even if you try to catch them, they cannot be grasped and held. That scares me a little when I think about it too long. Some things you never want to forget.

On the flipside, so many memories are things that stay with you for reasons you can't even understand, and when you think of them they seem so ordinary and generic that it makes no sense why you remember them at all. Walking to the cafeteria in elementary school, and thinking my kindergarten teacher's red dress was beautiful; sitting awake on the sofa at four in the morning when I had the flu and wondering if Mom was going to make me go to school; curled up next to Dad in his chair and watching Star Wars while he ate Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies. Thousands of insignificant, not-particularly-special memories. I wonder why they stayed with me.

Like most people, I tend to remember the negative vividly--that which scared or defeated me. I remember what I was wearing the first time I had my heart broken in high school (jeans and a blue sweater). I wore that sweater for years after that, and never thought much about it. But the pajamas I was wearing when my Dad called to tell me my Grandpa had died--those I had to throw away. I never wore them again, they sat in my closet, foreboding and untouched for two years before B finally tossed them for me. My Mom was wearing my lucky earrings when she got word that she had cancer. You'd think I would hate them now, but I don't. I wear them all the time. I guess it all depends on how deep the cut reaches, whether we are able to reconcile with our memories and move on, or whether they sit on our mental closet shelf and molder. Two painful moments--Mom got better. My Grandpa didn't. The earrings I kept, the pajamas had to go. Relinquishing ownership of possessions that drag you down is a good feeling, if only that could be done with memories as well. Maybe someday.

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