Lately, I have been thinking a lot about memory. What we remember. How we remember.
We completely forget certain incidents, which at the time we believed were life-altering, and then find ourselves awake in the middle of the night—our minds obsessing over trivial data, or what Annie Dillard calls, the complex interior junk you carry with you wherever you go.
Memory is precarious. Fickle. At times, should probably not be trusted. A haunted house, a funhouse, a curiosity shop—rich with magic, stories, and salve.
I’ve stopped asked why. Why these memories and not those. Why I can’t remember my best friend’s name from second grade, but remember the sweet and sour perfection of the pineapple upside down birthday cake I had for my birthday party that year. It just is. And maybe rather than tormenting myself for favoring the perfect ringlets of pineapples on my cake over a girl whose face I see but cannot name, I can savor what I do remember.
And mine it. Dig into it. The poet in me wants to find meaning in these memories, ask if they have reappeared to teach me something. But maybe it’s enough to remember the sweetness of the cake, the soggy moistness covered in vanilla ice cream and the smiles on my friends faces. Maybe that is the meaning. That joy can be that simple.
Some memories are terribly sad, some are silly and others painful. But, I don’t agree with Dillard; I don’t think anything interior is junk. It’s all a gift, a dialogue, and sometimes a sweet piece of cake.