The best memories are the ones that never really happened. The night you danced with abandon on a table in a bar in Slovenia. How you fell in love with a man who could never be yours. Feeling the most free you’ve ever felt on a lake in some country nobody has heard of. These events are not facts, they are your mind’s mastery. And that’s the beauty and wonder of it. What memory robs in truth it gifts in glory. Everything is brighter, more beautiful when it is over.
I have been in love with remembering longer than I’ve been in love with most anything else. All I write are memories. And all memories, all memoirs are fiction. It is the best kind of make-believe, that which is founded in the limbic system. The feeling is true, the details are false; an optical illusion. You can smell the tequila and erase the hangover, wax lyrical on the sun soaked days and glaze over the rest. You can pretend that life is like floating weightless on an endless blue sea where the sun dies majestically on the horizon. But that is not the cloud-covered, inland-living, boring truth of existence. Memory is the crazy grandma you always wanted to be who gets to wear whatever she wants and yell whatever she wants because the passage of time allows it. What’s not to love?
Social Media is a perfect medium for it. Every day it presents you with pictures and words that conjure up a time that no longer exists and never did except on the screen and in your mind. It is magical, this ability to create and recreate and reimagine. We are incapable of being objective. To hell with objectivity. What we feel to be real is real.
I sound like my Year 11 english teacher in love with Post-Modernism There is no singular truth. No, it is more akin to the great and late Maya Angelou. ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel’.
So it is with memory.
On This Day five years ago, facebook tells me, I was ‘Wandering castles in Sintra, eating Portugese custard tarts in Belem, Alfama thieves market, first pair of hippy pants and pub crawl in Barrio Alto tonight!’ Oh 2011 Grace, you show off.
On This Day two years ago, facebook tells me, I was tagged in a post by my Peruvian house mate that read ‘¿Quiénes son tus amigos? Rpta: Son aquéllos que te hacen sentir que eres un campeón o una campeona’ with a photo of my house mates and I on our Despedida in our living room with them wearing the medals we got engraved for them with nicknames and logos made from inside jokes. Oh 2014 Grace, you sentimental sap.
What these are are attempts to capture how my heart felt, or how my heart wanted to feel at a moment in my life. Each is embellished and rendered to honour something that was meaningful and most obviously, over. The living cannot compete with the dead, it is with people as it is with moments. You mourn those that have passed, you take for granted the ones that are living.
There are terrible times and depressing eras that our hearts remember too. We are fish with thoughts and elephants in feeling, all kinds of feeling. In my short and young life I have known no great loss and for that I am grateful. My dark days are light and have never been long… yet they happened all the same. My memory tends to forget these days, bleaching bright these stains on my personal history. I prefer to listen to my life’s Greatest Hits than remember the process before, the low after. When remembering the throb of those times, memory reminds me that they are long-gone. I have almost forgotten the tiresome anxiety, the commonplace worry, the plague of doubt. I have ceased to think of them at all and anything akin to it that is happening now will be over too. It is a relief.
I have many great memories, some that actually happened, all of which I can still feel.