At Grandma’s house yesterday afternoon, we paged through albums pieced together by her mother, my Great Grandma H–. Grandma repeated name after name–Allyn, Nora, States, Ella, Evah–connecting each name with a face in the worn sepia-tone photographs. With each each short utterance, she walked a well-worn path of invisible memories untold. How often she travels the lonely lane, I cannot tell, but do I know the journeys must be cloaked in solitude since so few remember anymore. Some do try. My mom, for one, always pages through the old albums, attempting to add the pictures and stories to her mind, but she didn’t actually participate in the events. Each generation gains its own memories, but its grip on the past slips and slides, resettling in a new shape and size.
Where do memories hide, tucked away out of sight? They truly are most intriguing creatures. Sometimes their unexpected returns amaze. Other times they are gone for such extensive absences that I wonder, in a distracted instance if they have disintegrated into magical dust, blown away forever on the wings of the wind into the vast unknown, to a place where they paint the dusky skies in cerise, crimson and burnt sienna washes, beautifying the heavens in brilliant, fleeting vagueness–the fitting last hurrah for perfect memories lost. It could be true, for sometimes they do indeed slip away forever, undetected.
It’s unavoidable. With every last breath, the world releases a lifetime’s worth of memories right alongside the active thoughts and physical actions. Maybe it must. Perhaps that’s the way it was designed, lost memories recycled, too, just as the body is, to feed and nourish the land in which it finally lies. Overwhelmed am I, knowing so little even in the realm of obvious, visible, tangible existence. How much more so in the intricate land of Obviously Existing, But Utterly Unknown! (12/30/12)
(Originally posted on my old blog, Interim Arts, on May 27, 2014)