So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

31 December, 2009

Offline Memory

I store my memory outside my head.

I don't know how to explain this to people, to people with undamaged memories. The only people who have understood me have had more overtly abusive relationships with one or another of their parents than I did, but they understand.

They understand growing up in 'that didn't happen', a world where any given event might disappear into an oubliette of denial and revisionist history. Where there is this constant meshwork of things never said, things said and forgotten, things said and denied a day later, where a child could not begin to navigate, caught between child's memories and the need to have faith in a caregiver.

(I think of a beloved friend's little icon, a scan of words written by a parent who never said them, a proof of something ambiguous and complicated and now, just ... unable to fit into language.)

I learned to store my memory outside my head.

Email archives, now that I'm an adult: great huge piles of email archives. Even when having conversations in text leads to vast emotional blowups, which it can do - my liege and I communicate shockingly poorly in text, for example - at least I can verify, if to nobody other than myself, that it actually happened.

Notes, mementoes, small objects that are part of an experience. I still hold a faint woundedness in my heart from when my father lost the baseball bat my grandfather gave me. I, very vaguely, wish that the scars on my forearm from when I self-injured had not faded, because scars are memory, and I know I was there, and I have no proof but what is written in my mind.

Small objects that were simply present at an experience, all part of the defining context of childhood, a thing that hooks into a complex of knowing where I came from, knowing where I was, an entire sense of security built around the familiar and the known.

"Do you need this?"

"It's a candy dish."

It's mints set out for some adult party, lights and nice clothes, something to do with artwork. It's Christmas candies by the tree in the house where I was a child, me tucked around the back of things putting ornaments on the side of the tree that faces the wall, voices singing "Haul out the Holly" from Mame. It's an assortment of pretzel sticks, once, and I cannot for the life of me remember why.

It's a little piece of memory.

"I mean, does it matter? Is it an important, like, family thing?"

I don't know how to answer the question, but since it is just a little piece of memory, not bound to a person, a single important event, something seminal, just part of where-I-came-from like so many other small things and really I don't need all of these little pieces of memory do I, there's enough else that can serve, enough that I don't just ... have my childhood dissolve away into doubt, since it is a trivial piece of memory, I say "We don't need it."

I store my memory outside my head.

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