“Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.”— Barbara Kingsolver
I haven’t gotten far on my memoir, no surprise there—at 15 minutes a day, I’m just five pages into the project, but my mind isn’t letting me write very much at a time. Its octopus tentacles often prefer to wander off the page, yet I’m putting the minimal time in as a discipline. What has been happening is that I find the exercise of writing does open my mind to memories…but perhaps at other times of day, most likely when I’m not sitting at a notebook or the computer. It’s as if that morning writing time is a key to a portal that peeks into the secret garden of the past. I’m opening myself to the possibility that memories of life with Vernon will chose to flit through, to honor me with their presence, perhaps in the afternoon, perhaps another time. Memories of the early years—so sweet, but fiercely scattered. They are much like little hummingbirds, catching my eye in the sunlight, and as I get close, they skirt away again…perhaps not to return. But another might come through later—when I’m dressing, or exercising, or driving, or painting, a postcard memory will come through. I’ll have a sense of that distant place for a moment, and think: I really should write this down. But even as I reach for the keys, it may have passed. In a way, these are more like waking dreams, which I’ve always been terrible at catching. I’ll have to rest in the glow that they were there, just outside the net of words, and be moved that I remembered for a moment.
My hope is that they’ll accumulate into something I can tuck away and access like a favorite story book or an old letter. This strange new season is teaching me to be open to the echoes of memory as they play across the screen at the back of my eyes. And I am a little more open to them every day, learning to enjoy the light scattering off of tiny jeweled feathers for the moment they are there, keeping the gate open so they can come any time….and maybe putting out a little sugared water, dyed red.