Understanding Me (in retrospect)…

I began this blog originally as a place for my fiction. I’ve uploaded only one short story (my very first post), and while I’ve written many more, I don’t think much of my work as of late is worth posting here yet. Some editing is required. Lately I’ve been writing short essays (I’m not sure what to call them. Journal entries?) expressing whatever insightful conclusions I’ve made about life, a way to “organize my thoughts”. But I had an idea. I read some of Proust last summer for a class, and I didn’t exactly get it at the time. A whole year of soul-searching, self-reflection and satisfying my own curiosity for things has shed a little light on what Proust was actually getting at.

When I look at myself in the mirror I see a version of me that I am wholly familiar with, but sometimes I find myself suddenly lost in memories from when I was much younger. What is odd to me is that there tend to be some memories which are much more frequent and detailed than others. What’s more, often times these memories pop into my head involuntarily, for no discernible reason. Still, many memories come to mind when I consciously search for them, although the mechanism for retrieving memories is completely foreign and inexplicable to me. How can I consciously make a decision to retrieve a particular memory without first having the memory in question suddenly appear in my mind? There must either be some sort of trigger caused by some feature of my environment, or the memory must be randomly selected by my brain. What I am trying to say is that there is never any conscious agency when having or selecting memories in the brain. Memories are either triggered by the environment or by other memories.

But let me get to my point. We are limited in our capacity for capturing and storing memories. The bulk of our lives will be forgotten entirely. We are creatures of forethought and retrospection, which means, while we live in the present moment, we spend a great deal of time thinking about the future and remember the past, most frequently as far back or forward in time as not more than a few hours. But, without putting forth a whole lot of effort, I couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday, or this morning. And I couldn’t tell you what I’ll have for dinner tomorrow. Briefly we spend time considering our distant past and future, but only the important stuff, like what kind of job do I want, or where I had my first kiss.

I’ve decided that the memories I have, some of them blissful, some traumatic, must be worth putting into words, if not to entertain some lucky reader, then to better understand myself. Looking at my life and the person I’ve become, I’ve become more aware of the significance of many of my memories, and I feel that this is as good a place as any for writing them down. Every word I write will be off the cuff, unedited and raw. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be exactly chronological as it’s hard to be so precise without lost of time and editing. But I’ll try my best.

I’ll begin with a vague set of memories, some of my earliest. The first house I remember was actually a mobile home in rural Orange County, NC. I don’t recall the exact layout, but I remember my bed spread, blue with Disney characters riding bikes head on. The reverse side was green, with the same characters being viewed from the back. I’ve seen pictures of myself being thrown onto this bed by my father when I must have been three or four. Maybe it’s because I can imagine myself being playfully tossed onto the bed, and that I’ve seen direct evidence for the event, that I have a memory from such a young age. I tend to think that it may be a false memory, however.

One memory I cannot refute though is from when I was even younger. I am lying flat on my back. Four towering walls surround me in my bed–a crib–and the ceiling is specked with plaster popcorn. I must have been crying, because suddenly I see a silhouette hovering over the crib with long hair pouring down over my face. My mom places a baby’s bottle into my mouth and I begin to suck on the nipple. Cold cherry Kool-Aid swarms into my mouth and quenches my thirst. I am satisfied. The memory ends.

There are several other memories from the mobile home, but I am tired. This was a good start.

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