Sometimes a memory just up and whacks you in the back of the head.
I hear a song, and I remember being in a field. I remember the clothes I was wearing. I remember the crowd. The stage. I remember realising that, whilst I hadn’t heard this particular song before, I’d be hearing again. And again. I remember the older woman beside me, craning up to say something to me through the noise. I can’t remember what it was. I remember that she assumed I knew the band better than I did. I remember making an affirmative noise, nodding, letter her assumption remain untarnished. It seemed easier.
I can’t remember wearing an eye-patch, although I know I was. It’s what made the woman talk to me in the first place. I had torn a contact lens, and had made an eye-patch out of duct tape and toilet paper. It was that or have one eye in focus and one eye out.
Like almost all memories, the visual is the weakest. The visual is almost imagined. It’s also third person, like I was watching myself, rather than being myself. I wonder if everyone’s memories are third person. I’d assume so.
I read somewhere that every time we remember something, we overwrite it in our brains. That the next time we remember it we don’t remember the event, but the most recent remembering of that event. That each infinitesimally small change gets canonised and then replicated, time and again.
That the clearest memories are ones that are rarely revisited.
I don’t know how true that is or isn’t – I can’t remember the source and it might well be a ‘well my friend’s cousin said…’ from when I was about 11, but it stays with me.
It doesn’t seem fair, that the clearest memories are ones that are barely remembered at all. Seems paradoxical.
It annoys me that we forget things. That there are entire events that I can’t remember. I saw something I wrote years ago where I remembered drunkenly messing around on a child’s play area with my friends, after a night out, near someone’s house. I’d completely forgotten about it. I remember fragments, now – I think someone fell off a slide and hurt themselves, but it might have been a see-saw? Or one of those weird little springed chair things? I remember him lying on the ground, clutching at his back and laughing, the rest of us standing around him, above him, laughing at him and with him. I remember feeling endless, and impossible, and immortal. I remember thinking this is it, this is my life, and it’s happening here, and now, forever and ever. Not those words, maybe, but that sentiment. Somehow, I’m sure, I’m still in that moment. Trapped, endless and laughing and more than a little drunk, surrounded by my friends in the pre-dawn light. After finishing Sixth form and being accepted into university, before I left. This beautiful little pocket of time.
A beautiful little pocket of time I’d lost. Completely. I might never have remembered it. The thing is, that detail about someone hurting themselves? That came to me as I was writing this. Before then, I knew this was something that had happened and that was all. No details. And I’m not even sure this memory is real. I may have edited something that happened another time to fit a different place. I can’t trust it.
There are other memories, from similar nights and a similar time. Some of them are secure – I visit them often, or I have photographs. Some are vague. Some, I’m sure, are missing completely.
But I still remember the feeling, that summer. The vitality of it. Novels have been written about that feeling. Not by me, and not of my summer, but of that summer. Everyone has a version of it, I suppose. This beautiful, perfect, idealised time that all nostalgia I ever feel will be measured against. There are a few pockets of time with that feel throughout my life. Long summer evenings when I was a child, playing with the neighbours. Nights so late they’re early mornings, drunk and living as a teenager. Playing cards and drinking whilst watching shitty youtube videos and laughing as a student. Events and places and circumstances etched onto my brain through repetition, made light and fuzzy and happy through nostalgia and memory. Maybe more will appear and solidify as I age, but I feel the earliest will always be the strongest. The most vital. The ones I’ll always be drawn too and never, ever be able to recapture.