My Files Are Corrupted

So, here I am sitting in class, Introduction to Creative Nonfiction, otherwise known as CRW 209. My professor has decided that we will use class time each Wednesday to write. This is great for me, because even though I write in my journal daily, you have probably noticed that I still have trouble finding time to blog. She gives us a prompt, and today the other students are writing about a time long ago when they were slighted. That’s not working for me, so I am going to write about something else.

It’s not that I have never been slighted, because I do live as a human, with other humans, and that’s what we do to one another whether we mean to or not. It’s just that I don’t remember it. I don’t remember much at all. I remember fearing for my mother’s life. I remember fearing for my own physical safety. And I remember what other people tell me. I also remember people, either their name or their face, but rarely both, and never what we did together. And that’s pretty much it, up until a couple of years ago.

More times than I care to recount, I have re-met someone I used to know, and had to try to ferret out information on just how familiar I am supposed to be with this person. How much do they know about me, and more importantly, what do they remember that I do not?

For example:

I don’t remember hanging out with my cousins as children, I just know that I did, and I know I love them. Until one of them says some little thing that becomes a trigger. And then, I have some of my life back. Yesterday, as part of another discussion, Sarah mentioned Barbie clothes. Back in the day, Grandmother made three matching sets of Barbie clothes: one for me, one for Sarah, and one for my unsister. And now, by virtue of that passing reference, those Barbie clothes that my grandmother made for us are not just relics in my childhood closet, but tangible items related to the playing of Barbies with my cousin. No, I still don’t remember playing Barbies with her. But I know I played with Barbies, because I still have them. And she remembers playing Barbies with me, so I must have played them with her. Therefore, her memory of playing Barbies with me becomes a fact that I can store and call a “memory”.

Whatever, it’s what I’ve got, and I manage to work with it. What else am I going to do? I’m 44 years old, and I must have gotten here somehow. Clearly, I have a past….I just don’t know where I filed it.

4 thoughts on “My Files Are Corrupted

  1. Oh, Cass! I, too, have some gaps and black holes. My sis frequently refers to events from our childhood which seem significant enough that I should remember them, but they are new information to me. I had the same experience with stories told by my older brother. I’ve never doubted the authenticity of their stories, but I’ve wondered why I don’t have their recall. There are some long stretches of time where my past simply doesn’t exist. Not, I think, as much lost time as you seem to have, but enough to make me wonder what went on that wiped the slate those stories were written on. It doesn’t trouble me greatly – it’s just something I know and that I think about from time to time. I don’t feel a great need for answers, but I think you do, and I hope you find them … and that they aren’t too troubling.

  2. I used to want answers….but I’ve come to realize that if that much of my memory is gone, there’s probably good reason. So, I’ve learned to say “I don’t remember” and try to explain DML. It’s …the hard part is trying to explain to someone who remembers doing stuff with me me that I don’t remember it, and that this does not mean it wasn’t memorable. No one wants to be forgotten, and I don’t imagine it can feel very good to be erased either, even if the erasing had nothing to do with you.

    Funny, as I type this comment, my bff is texting me about stuff we did as teens, and how we talked and laughed together way back then, much as we do now. We only knew each other for a few months and weren’t besties at the time, of course, but now I know why I remembered *him*, even though I still don’t remember our time together.

  3. Cass, what is DML?

    This so sounds like me, as well. It was so weird at my high school reunion a few years ago. People were talking about all of these things we supposedly did together and I swear I didn’t remember any of it. I look at my old family photos and see myself in situations I very vaguely remember, if at all. My sister has gotten angry that I don’t remember events that were supposedly very important.

Comments are closed.