Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Memories- A short story in real life time travel.
Started out as mind wondering, turned into more than 2800 words. I shall call this one a short story.
Today I write two blogs. Sometimes, writing is all I have left at the end of the day. When I have nothing more to give I still find words to put down on paper. I am laying here in bed next to a snoring husband; this would normally be the time I would allow myself a brief lapse to cry. But, tonight I was thinking over past memories. Part of losing a friend is letting them go. It has been a hard last two days for me because letting her go has not been easy. I have picked up my phone to text her random texts about my day or something I had seen, or to ask about her child. Each time it has been like a dagger in the heart. More so, finding out her response to all this has hurt a ton. Instead of dwelling on the current pain I thought about some of the good times. I would rather hold on to the good times, let the bad times go, as I let the present turn into the past. When people die this is often done as well, people let go of the negative memories and remember the positive ones.
As I was remembering some of the memories I share with that person it lead to positive ones with my friend Veronica. Which lead me to think about memories as a member of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, which lead me to think about high school memories… yep took me down a mighty long pathway on memories road.
Life is not about the days, it is about the moments within the days that make the days memorable. You forget days, you don’t forget memories. I don’t remember all the 10, 523 days I have been alive. Some days I can barely remember what I did yesterday, let alone a week or month ago. If I were to be a suspect in a murder and they asked me, “Where were you and what did you do on September 28th, 2011?” Would I remember? Would you?
There are certain moments that are emblazed into my memory, tattooed there, permanent. People tend to remember the big days: graduation, marriage, babies being born. We all remember where we were on September 11th. There are other memories that are more personal. Some I can tell you the exact day that the memory occurred, others I only remember the moment.
Of course I remember vacations, road trips, and flying to New York to be on the Montel Williams show. I remember the huge days in my life, as does any other person. But, I don’t think the memories of holidays, vacations, and special events are nearly as fun to remember as the ordinary day to day ones that catch you off guard.
A few of the memories shock me because they aren’t memories you would plan on retaining in the bank: when the house was hit by a tornado and the fire department brought me to a friend’s house to stay the night. I was alone with my siblings while my adopted mother was in Vegas, a boy from a grade above me in high school that I had always looked up to, but seemed to be invisible to, was also there at the house. He told me he was proud of me. It was the first time in my life I had heard those words. It was the summer after I turned eighteen.
I remember when Brian held me in his arms and told me he loved me. It wasn’t a lovers embrace. We were on a large hill looking down at our college town. It was a beautiful fall night in September. I was sitting hugging my knees between his legs; he was behind me, pulled me to my back against his chest. We were laughing, I don’t remember what about. I felt comfortable, at home. It was late, had to be early morning, but that never fazed us. Amazing how late one can stay up in their late teens without feeling consequences from the lack of sleep. He said he loved my laugh that it was one of the many things about me he loved. He loved my sense of humor, my ability to care in the snap of a finger. I tried to change the topic, talk about snapping fingers and whistling. He asked why I did that. Why I couldn’t accept love from anyone. He told me his goal wasn’t for me to love him but his goal was for me to learn to accept love from other people. He said he would always love me and I would always be safe with him. That moment resonates clear in my brain, as clear, if not more clear then November 8th, the night he took his life.
Memories are very powerful. They can evoke strong emotions. There are some that always bring tears to my eyes: Remembering my mother laying in her casket, saying goodbye to a baby that never breathed his first breaths, Brian’s last words the night he died. The feeling of being tossed in a car, it rolling, the blackness. Waking up knowing they were all dead.
There are some memories that you try and try to black out. Halloween is a hard time of year for me. When you find your best friend died, hanging from the ceiling, you try to avoid everything that brings back that sight. Memories of people saying hateful things, of treating you badly, or of seeing things you wish you could unsee, unfeel, unhear. Memories like starving for food, attention and love as a child. Being so cold your entire body is shivering and not sure you will ever be warm again. Memories of being screamed at every single day and night. Of being rejected by home after home. Every once in awhile when I am able to face the demons of the past or when memories haunt me as walking nightmares I think about being abused.
I can feel the steel of the knife slicing into my young arms, the pain of it cutting across my tongue, the burn of the fire racing up my legs. I can feel the sting of the belt cutting into my back, my legs. I can feel the palm of his hand across my face, his fist crashing into my stomach. I can feel his unnatural entry and the blackness overcomes my mind and I escape into a place where his pain can’t reach me.
Those memories you try very very hard to erase. But, even in those memories comes learning, growing, and the comparison to the good. There is value in the negative memories because they make the positive shine so much brighter.
Then there are the good memories. The ones you hold as close as a toddlers favorite blanky. Memories that bring light into your eyes, smile onto your lips, the ones you love sharing.
I remember a night when my friend Megan and I went on a double date with these two cowboys. Literally. I was a bit surprised when after our hilarious dinner at Steak N Shake they took us to an Uhaul storage facility. Turned out, behind the Uhaul Storage place was a wide-open field with the most beautiful view of the never-ending Midwest stars. We pulled up in the trucks, they parked them side by side and opened the doors, put on country music and asked us to dance under the moonlight. We danced and danced. We sat on the end of the truck beds and we talked until the sun came up. It wasn’t a romantic match for either pair, but it was a night that stands out in our memory.
One of my most fond bittersweet memories was when I was in college. A girlfriend and I drove to another college to see a friend perform in a play. We were late getting out of work and drove over 100 miles an hour. Not smart, but we were young and reckless. We made the play. Afterwards we went out to dinner with some of her friends. Then, all young and single, we ended up at a local park the three of us girls with three boys. We swung on the swings while they pushed us, laughing and joking. We broke into pairs, one boy and one girl and wondered around the park, talking, laughing, and making out. Nothing more then a few kiss between adolescents trying to find their way from teens to adults. Gathering back together at the swing set, we watched the sun rise and went to breakfast. We were the first customers at a little doughnut shop. Our doughnuts were hot, melted in our hands and our mouths, the sweetest doughnuts I have ever tasted. I never saw the boy again, cant remember his name or what he looked like, but I remember the doughnuts and my girlfriends. I remember a night of innocent fun, kissing exploration and of time well spent.
I remember the first time I got drunk. I remember because well I almost got arrested. I made it to almost twenty before I drank alcohol. And the night I decided to drink I also decided that a trip to Walmart was in order. Actually, I am not sure who decided to go to Walmart, I just know I was a passenger. We get to Walmart and I suddenly have the bright idea to ride the mechanical horse. I put in a quarter and off I go… and out comes security. Which would have been fine but in my drunken stupor I think the horse is mine and I don’t want to get off, and I cant understand why the guy wont leave me and my horse alone. My friends are dying laughing but not helping matters… security calls the cops and well I guess we were gone before they got there.
Memories take you back in time, make life worth living. You can’t know joy without knowing pain. You can’t appreciate love without feeling hate. I believe all emotions are good emotions. I’d rather feel then not be able to. Sometimes, sad memories are good but most of the time I prefer ones that make me laugh or move me.
I remember where I was when I was informed that Evan was killed in Iraq. In the middle of a field problem, trying desperately to remember where I had left my knife (and not paying any attention to the Cadre.). I remember the older gentlemen who paid for our lunch at the Chinese place after drill one weekend and how shocked I was to be appreciated by a total stranger.
And I will never forget the look on the teenagers face when she rang up the chicken at the grocery store. It was a priceless memory. Mica, James and I had just come in from a long long cold field training exercise. We were in our BDU’s and caked in mud. We were headed to Mica’s house to make dinner. We were freezing, wet and exhausted. I thought making a comfort food dish would be just the thing. We had everything to make chicken and dumplings, but the chicken. Instead of going home and changing, we left and went straight to the store. The girl stared at us for the longest time, finally I said, “The chicken is already dead you know.” And James and Mica started laughing hysterically. Man, it would take days to discuss all the memories I made with them. Days. If you could see the smile that is lighting up my face right now as I think back to those memories. First motorcycle ride, early morning PT’s followed by hot breakfast together, late night taco runs, my first trip to a porn store. There are memories made with friends, memoires made with family and memories made with coworkers. Those of us who have ever put on a uniform, for however long it might have been, will never forget those they served with and those battle buddies that life brought their way.
I won’t forget the night I heard that Hussein was finally put to death or where I was the night Bin Laden was killed, or going to the bar with Steph and Sam afterwards. Feelings coursed through me, as my husband was fighting in Afghanistan at the time, and I had lost so many good friends in battle, the bittersweet conflicting emotions. Fear of retribution on our military, joy that he was dead, guilt for feeling joy over the death of a fellow human being, pride in our Country, a bit of peace and hope that it might, maybe, at some point in time, make the sacrifices more worth it.
I remember falling in love… again and again. Who doesn’t remember their first love? Romance. Ah, romance. What is better then a romantic memory?
I remember my first real kiss. It was at church, in the basement, (where Sunday school was held). I was ten and he was twelve. He wanted to hold my hand afterwards and I liked that better than the kiss. My first date included getting lost on the way back to my house in the country, which meant driving in circles for hours.
Who doesn’t remember losing their virginity? Ill spare you the details.
And I will never forget the first date with my husband. Our first kiss, in the middle of a busy DC street. I wont forget the first time we found out we were pregnant or the first loss of our baby. I remember the first time I saw my male German Shepherd, I can close my eyes and think about his little bitty head and his floppy ears. I can remember the smell of his puppy breath. I can walk by a perfume counter and get a whiff of the perfume my adopted grandmother wore and instantly think of her. Every time I hear a trumpet play I think about my high school boyfriend, Joe, who was killed by a semi truck driver. Whenever I see a mechanical bull I think about the one we rented and put outside our sorority house for the fraternities to ride, a trophy to the house that stayed on the longest, I think about that day, all smiles, and the photo I have of Brian riding the bull that sits on my desk to this day, nearly a decade later.
Memories only take a moment to make. But not all memories have to be big. Sometimes a memory can simply be stopping to take the time to do something together. One of my favorite memories with my husband was an all night Monopoly game. We had started the game on a work night with every intention of stopping when it got late. Suddenly, it is three o’clock in the morning and we are still working on the same game. We had to decide between going to bed for two and a half hours or staying up. A pot of coffee later and we had made one of my absolute favorite memories. I can’t tell you what we talked about or who won the game (pretty sure that was me) but I can tell you the memory was worth the wasted sleep.
I have had this purple stuffed rabbit for over twenty two years. Floppy has held an oceans worth of my tears. I have hugged him on airplanes and trains, during car rides and hospital stays. He has been there to greet me after funerals, birthdays and celebrations. He has gone on every vacation, to church camp, summer camp, trips to the dentist and doctors over his lifetime. He is a representation of memories from childhood to womanhood and beyond. I can hold him and feel the only consistent home I have ever had. His fur is now more gray then purple, his nose went from fuzzy to hard, and he carries the weight he has left in his butt.
But it is he who inspired this blog tonight. He has been touched by those who have meant the most to me in this life and he has held anger, frustration, sadness, joy and hope in his arms. I look at this little stuffed animal that was mass produced in some random factory and sold at some random store that ended up in a little abused, abandoned, and unloved, foster childs arms and I see a lifetime of memories.
Memories are that what makes our lives worth living. They are the breath of the soul. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of everyday life we forget to take the time to make a new memory. Big or small memories are what kept me alive. A memory takes an otherwise ordinary day and puts it at the forefront of recollection. A new memory can add life to our routine.
I am going to try very hard to make more ordinary days into memorable ones.
at 10:24 PM