It seems to me, that for a while now, I find myself outside my moments. That instead of being in them, experiencing them for their live, bleeding immediacy, I take a simple step out and watch from afar; from all angles, through all eyes.
I walk around the moment, inspecting it, but more importantly I try to imagine how I will remember this moment; if I will recall the exact smells or the way the light falls, or how distinct the sound will be in my memory as compared to the reality. I live in the moment from the past as a child looking at myself in wonder, or as an adult from the future observing the moment with contempt or nostalgia. I watch the moment through other people’s eyes; through friends, enemies and family. I become all of them in that moment. And so even as the moment unfurls I am not me, but someone older, or younger, or else.
I do not exist in my moments.
During joy, I wonder if future events will warp this memory into one of sadness. In sadness I wonder if this will become a memory of torture. I am robbed of the moment by trying to conjure its memory in its place. The dead rise even before they fall. The foetus born, before it can even form.
So even the memory is a memory and no real moment ever existed.
It affects my writing; this gift or curse. The whole picture forms at once, the dots connect too fast, I jump to the end of the story before it has even begun. The understanding that gradual growth brings cannot exist; for I am too impatient, too out of the moment; I’m the observer who needs to see what happens next. I need to find my place in the audience to watch the play unfold. I’m the child, the grandmother, the cousin, the best friend. I’m the actor sitting in the cinema and the role falls suddenly empty.
Where, then am I? Why have I made memory the house I live in? In arguments, in love, in conversations, I have lived the memory in my head already. From both sides, from different angles, I’ve experienced almost all of it. Such differing and intense emotions can be cripplingly overwhelming. In the end there is nothing left to be said.
All these stillborn conversations and questions gather around me like ghostly children, glaring with accusatory glares. Children who were never asked to be born. Not like this. They yearn to be normal, these tortured twisted offspring limping around the house with their erratic arms and empty eyes. You created us, they say, as they walk around my bedroom when I’m trying to fall asleep.
“You write too much about memory.”
I do. I am obsessed with it. I want to dissect it; cut minds open with scalpels and see where memories reside, there they form like tufts of moss and hide like eels and crumble like sugar I want to see how they bloom and die and swallow people up in holes of light and darkness.
Perhaps it is because I have begun to realise that memory is all we have. It is the only truth of our existence. Pass all our memories on to someone else and they become us. Memory is our essence, the very ingredient we use to understand the world, the very knife that will carve our shape into the world.
Our memories are our most important possessions.
And so I obsesses over them. I dabble and fiddle and meddle and poke around; I catch my stories and bottle them and without air they grow wretched and weary and wilt. And when I finally let them out, so eager are they for freedom, they disappear and never came back and I am left with just empty bottles in a field at sunset. And I am relieved, oh I am relieved.
I hang my memories over my bed like a string of lights and watch them go out, one by one. My dear, dear friends, the only ones who have embraced me long enough to know how fiercely tender I truly am.