“The river flowed both ways.”*
Memories. Boy, can they fuck you up. Lead you down a path you never would have gone if you’d just been sensible and forgotten.
Then there’s everything you HAVE forgotten. Someone reminds you of a long ago event. Oh ya. I did that. Oh God. Did I do that?! Maybe that’s why I have forgotten the people to go with the memories. The cringing memories. The stomach-knotted, bowel-clenching memories. The strawberry wine-vomit memories.
There are memories you’re not part of but wish you were. Like me and my siblings. I came along later than them and they have shared battles and woes and horror stories of youth I wasn’t there for. I am jealous of those ones. I can’t reminisce with them. Left out, waaa, poor me memories.
Flashbacks. Triggers. A smell, like Coppertone Suntan Lotion and suddenly you’re gone. You’re four. You’re in Hawaii. Sunburnt. The lotion lied. Scottish skin doesn’t tan. You’re lost in a market, hot and scared. A big hand grabs you and you run to your mother who smells like Ponds face cream and Chantilly perfume. She is crying. You’re laughing. You were found.
And there are other memories too. The secret memories, the therapy memories. Yes, they stay locked up and given only to your priest, your therapist, your Buddhist friend, to take away the sins of your world.
Happy memories? The balm to restore balance. To make breathing easy. To meditate and contemplate and be grateful for. Baby days and canoeing. Long walks and making love on a sunny rock.
Regretful memories. Forgetful memories. Joyful memories. They pull you backwards even when you’re stepping forwards. Like the river that flowed both ways.
All this flowed through my head as I walked 10,000 steps – an hour and a half of traipsing through soggy snow, muddy streets. The head is a noisy place.
*This is the opening line of Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners. A line I never really understood until I hit about 50. There’s one good thing about getting older. Literature starts to make sense.
(“10,000 Steps” is a Sue redo from a previous blog.)