I was sitting in from to the time sink computer this morning doing one of the things I do best, reading blogs. I came across a post my sister Jessie wrote over at 58 inches. Although I don’t think it was her original intention she got me thinking about how memory works.
Not how memory works in the clinical sense. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Hell, I did not even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. I am talking more about how memories are perceived, at least by me.
In movies and books I generally get the impression that other people have memories that would best be described as a DVD player. They think about remembering something and a little movie of it plays out in their mind. While I do get that occasionally, generally speaking my memory works more like a photo album.
I take snapshots, slide shows, still images. Maybe a bunch from a single event, but typicality my memories are like a still life. I don’t know if that’s “normal”, but it’s me. Lets drag out the dusty old albums and look at a few that stand out.
The fall of ’79:
I am sitting down in the front yard of a well kept white house with black trim. The grass is still green but there is a chill in the air, I know this because I was wearing my favorite sky blue sweat shirt. I am looking down at my stomach watching the blue of the fabric slowly turn purple around my hands. My hands are red, everything hurts.
Standing in front of me is an 18 year old girl, my babysitter. Her name is Lisa. She is wearing an expression that seems half way between disbelief and terror. Held loosely in her hands sits my rifle, a thin wisp of smoke curling from its barrel. She stammers wordlessly, having lost the ability to speak. I whisper in disbelief “You… you shot me.”
January 28th, 1986:
It is a bright but cold day, the sky is a crisp cobalt blue with hardly a cloud to be seen. I am standing in my driveway with my dad looking over the Indian River towards the launch pads at Cape Canaveral.
The shuttle Challenger rests on the pad across the way. Dad is holding a cup of coffee with steam coming off of it. I can see my breath escaping in little puffs of steam.
The sky lights up as Challenger starts her trip into the history books. Dad and I are watching closely, hoping to see the solid rocket boosters separate since the sky is so clear.
There is a great cloud of smoke with fire in the creases where the silver lining should be on any good cloud. The solid rocket boosters fly clear of the expanding cloud and each go their erratic way. My Dad says “Oh my God” and races in to turn on the news, I follow.
June 23rd, 1989:
Kelly is beautiful in her white dress. I look into her eyes as we hold hands. Hands that only moments before we had placed rings on. As we lean together and kiss for the first time as husband and wife I can smell the shampoo she used that morning.
I remember at that moment feeling even more in love with her than ever. It is a feeling that twenty years later is still as strong as it was that Friday afternoon.
I could sit and ponder for days, picking scene after scene. It would be fun to do that, just spend a while poking through the past and looking at memories that stand out above the rest. Unfortunately It would likely end up like a day I set aside to clean out a closet only to find albums full of snapshots.
After a day spent reminiscing I would find myself sitting at the table, albums scattered about. The kids would be hungry,the room cluttered. I would find myself thinking that dinner won’t make itself, and the closet still needs cleaned.
I guess I should put the album away and get back to work.