Saturday, October 2, 2010
We stack our memories. Layer upon layer they wait patiently to be unpeeled when we feel like wandering through memories lain. But even though they are archived, seemingly safely tucked away, their essence slowly bleaches out like sun-worn timber. Only the strongest grains remain, braille touched with life-worn fingertips of memory. The emotions, the smells, the visions flash up unsynchronised - lips move with no sound, disembodied emotions, sounds heard but no vision, smells.
Today's memories are new, raw, thick and emotionally charged in the storm of their making, unwittingly waiting to be compressed and subdued by memories to come. But the older ones are refurbished, gaps refilled, turned over and recast in the wellspring of our minds. What do we keep and what gets discarded? What does it mean to say "I remember"?
These could be my favourite childhood memories, but, in truth I can't be sure:
Sunday morning radio stories on crackly airwaves - Watership Down and Spike Milligan, Walt Disney World. Sunday board games day. Being bathed, soapy warm and clothed in night's armour - pyjamaed before darkness made its dusk charge. Heidi and Lassie and Skippy. Solving the mysteries of haunted castles with the Famous Five, curled up legs on long car drives in the days when you thought there was nothing special about scenery. Boats, trains and automobiles, tunnels and mountainous road trips through pine plantations. Competing to see whose lolly lasted longest, resisting the urge to crunch. I spy. Home baked biscuits and cakes, rich chocolate tentacles wafting through the air and learning how to cook.
Walking home from school, misty breath through baby teeth and lips, gumboots crunching through the frost covered grass, a blanket of freckles no protection for a nose in weather so cold that it burned. Frowny concentration searching for four leaf clovers, the perfect leaf, the deepest puddle, the cracks. Cold fingers wrapped around warm mugs of chocolate, breath blowing away the steam. Musky lambswool and log fires. Wallpaper.