There is a thing I do where I relive things in my head. Pretend I’m someplace else by playing the same music or thinking the same thoughts. Today I was on the train from Boston to Bridgeport, then the ferry across the sound back to my parents’ house, and it was that same Sufjan Stevens album I played on repeat four years ago on that very first train ride that made me feel like I was back in that time before all the things that have happened happened. The first time I ever took that train was Halloween 2008. An impromptu trip home for the weekend. I made my decision, skipped my Friday class, and hopped on the T to South Station all in under two hours. This time I gave myself three days, and instead of here it was Boston I was going to. Work all day on Thursday, the bus from that awkward stop next to the Javits Center, then South Station again, but this time rather than making the trip to Long Island to see friends and family and my dog, it was in the opposite direction to see my boyfriend.
Memory | Memoir | Remember | Memories
I write about memory a lot, when I write creatively. It’s one of those things that makes sense to me to write about, because most of the things I write are from memory, and even if they’re not I couldn’t ever describe anything if not for having had similar experiences and recalling them to steal from them a description.
Memory - From Anglo-Norman memorie, Old French memoire etc., from Latin memoria (“the faculty of remembering, remembrance, memory, a historical account”), from memor (“mindful, remembering”), related to Ancient Greek μνήμη (mneme, “memory”) μέρμερος (mermeros, “anxious”), μέριμνα (merimna, “care, thought”).
Here is an awful thing I wrote almost exactly one month ago. It is truly terrible. Sort of a late night word vomit type endeavor, that I never thought or wanted anyone to read.
sudden vision in my head. late night driving in the back of the car. on the expressway. my parents in the front seats. my brothers asleep next to me. streetlamp. streetlamp. streetlamp. driving fast. watching the white stripes on the road go by. and another. and another. sad 80s vibrating from the car stereo. cool dj’s voice and a catchy tagline i’ve heard a thousand times. dark and hazy. foggy. it is late. so late. we are tired. so tired. i was asleep, now i’m not. resting my head on the seatbelt, the space between my shoulder and the side of the car, like a hammock, almost like a pillow, i was drooling on it a little. but now i’m awake. and my head’s rolling from side to side and my eyes are fluttering. my mom’s asleep in the driver’s seat. those big stucco or concrete or wooden panels they have on the sides of the road with birds etched into them that drown out the noise from the cars going by. more streetlamps. i know that when we get home, we will wait for the grueling garage door to open, stagger sleepily into the house, indy will be waiting for us curled up in the corner, and she’ll wag her tiny tail when she sees us, and we’ll all trek to our respective bedrooms like we’ve just returned home from war or something. and i know this will happen, but this car ride lasts forever, in this old lived in minivan. it is foggy. it is late. we are driving. and i’ll never get it back.
And a comment a friend of mine made on it:
took me to that moment, for sure.
the pacing and flow of the words simulates memory well— including the use of colloquial phrasing.
in my imagination i was beginning to hope there wasn’t some disaster at the end, b/c the memory was so precise (and tragedy has that effect) but was relieved to arrive at the mundane. so there was a crescendo and deflation, which is good. maybe that was just my own subjective experience, tho.
in a weird way, you HAVE gotten it back. at least the moment that lives on in you. that is still there. perhaps that will always be with you.
Take from this all what you will.