Day 846, October 26, 2022

Remembered into Existence

I had the first sentence to a new short story in my head this morning. I repeated it to myself several times to be sure I would retain it. And yet, I’m pretty sure by the time I had walked down the hill from my parking spot to the road behind the office, I had lost it. 

How do we recover things that are lost? A hypnosis session to remember the name of an old housemate? A reenactment of the scene. Perhaps, if I wear the same purple shirt and purple tie, listen to the same passage in the audio book, pick my teeth with that same decrepit toothpick that I promised myself to throw away. Maybe then it would come back to me.

The last time I went home, my brother handed me a box of old letters. I unfolded one, it was elaborately illustrated. There was so much life and love in that letter. But I did not remember it at all. I became melancholy and sad. How could I have not read those beautiful letters? Because, forgetting them, was like unreading them. I had forgotten them out of existence. Who communicates with such care and dedication today? How is it possible that I had forgotten the existence of such an expression of life and love.

I wonder if that is what it is like to lose one’s memory. If one day, some things will cease to exist. The way my middle school social studies teacher died of cancer and never returned. Suddenly, there is a space where a man once stood, the man who comforted me when I cried on a field trip to the Vietnam War Memorial. My mother always said I was a too sensitive child. One day, he was leading us outside to gawk at a student’s father’s DeLorean automobile, parked in a walkway with its gull wing doors open like… wings, as middle school child after middle school child ran their fingers on the sun hot stainless steel exterior, plopped into the leather bucket seat for a brief moment and jiggled the steering wheel. The next day, there was not that man. Even his name slipping into the ether. 

Would it be like the lost short story? A nagging absence about an entire existence that is now lost. Or would it be more like the letter, a hole in a piece of fabric, like the pulled thread on a pair of pants, unnoticed except when pointed out. Oh, look, there is something amiss. I did not know something was amiss until just this moment. And then, when I get home and hang my pants in the closet, I will forget that something is amiss, and may not notice the pull for another three wears. And then, perhaps, I’ll drip a fleck of tahini on my pants, and in the attempt to wipe the spot, I will see the pull and recognize it for what it is. I will know that I had seen the letter before, but in the ensuing days, forgotten it existed at all.


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