The Nature of Memory

Nowthislife.com - Journals

After my post about Being Twenty again, I decided to dig through my bin of old journals, looking for the ones that covered my time in Paris. Friday I had lunch with a writer friend, and we talked about those days, and what it all meant. She posted on Facebook later that modeling allowed her to travel the world, filling notebooks with her writing.

After finding, and reading, my Paris journal, I have a feeling Alice's are filled with a much better trove of material!

Sometimes it's better to keep your younger self at a safe distance, filtered by memory. That girl who wrote my diary? I really don't know her. Every page filled with emotional drama about men and relationships. Page after page after page of it. I know there was lots of other great stuff happening in my life, travel and work and books and friends, but all I wrote about was men. And not so kindly, intelligently, or compassionately either. Obviously I was desperately trying to make sense of that part of my life, but if that journal were all you had to go by, I really was quite awful. Luckily I have my memories of the whole of my life, and not just what made it onto the page.

What struck me more than anything was the intensity of all of it. Everything so incredibly important, everything felt so deeply and passionately. I believed that I'd carry those feelings, those decisions, with me forever.

Well, here I am, twenty five years later, and I might as well be a completely different person. I can barely even remember most of the things I wrote about, and the emotional charge is completely gone. It's so strange that my life could have been so wholly centered on someone, or someones, and now, nothing. Just the writing, a few really sweet movies in my head, and some love letters tucked in between the pages remain.

We truly are a series of people throughout our lives. I feel the through line of who I am, the child, the teenager, the young adult, everything leading to the me I am today. But the nature of memory is strange. We remember by replaying the memories in our mind, and each time we do so, they change a bit. It can end up that the memory we hold doesn't bear any resemblance at all to what really happened. I wouldn't believe this if you told me, but there it all is, in my own (unrecognizable now) handwriting.

All of it makes me happy that I am writing this blog. Because it is less personal than my journal, I find myself writing about things I'd never solidify otherwise. I believe that when I look back, years from now, I'm going to be really happy that I recorded a wonderful bike ride, my roses blooming, decisions about where Chloe should go to school, or just how much we loved Gracie, all those little things that make up my life.

Because otherwise, all those moments, they would just disappear.

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