“But I believe above all that I wanted to build the palace of my memory, because my memory is my only homeland.”
I don’t write often.
I tell myself that my thoughts are too fleeting and scattered to be arranged coherently on a page. And perhaps it’s the fleeting and scattered part that makes recollection and retrieval of memories difficult. From locking keys in cars again and again, to forgetting conversations and countless important moments, my memory tends to let me down.
I take pictures nearly every day, knowing that without them, many things will vanish irreplaceably from my mind’s archival library, like fresh footprints disappearing into the desert sand as gusts of wind kiss the ground. The other day, I passed by a Pizza Hut in my neighborhood that was being converted into a Money Mart. I quickly dipped into my bag for my phone and snapped a photo of the building, which was void of any markings suggesting it was once a Pizza Hut, except for the signature ‘hut’ roof (Money Mart apparently didn’t mind keeping this trademark bit of architecture). The photo – and frankly, the building too – is aesthetically unpleasant. But the thought of completely forgetting about the existence of a restaurant where my parents and sister and I spent many pizza nights before and during their separation, seemed worse. Looking at this photo, I can recall greasy ham/cheese pizza, dark booths and low-hanging stained-glass lamps. I can remember the feeling of the round glass shakers filled with parmesan and chili flakes in my hands, and the sound of coins falling into the sticker machine (is that even a thing anymore?). Memory truly does feel like a homeland.
But what a horrific life to live, constantly bombarded by memories of very average dinners at Pizza Hut. There is, thankfully, a pragmatic side to forgetting: humans simply could not function if we remembered everything. Our minds would quickly become clogged with potentially useless and irrelevant information, like the red shirt of a stranger on the bus or the exact conversation you had with your server during a sushi dinner last month, word-for-word. I’m glad that our cognitive systems filter out most of the mundanity. However, from time to time the mind can chuck out bits and pieces that you perhaps hadn’t reminisced about much, but actually wanted to keep. I’d liken it to being a little kid, and finding that your mum has – without consultation – thrown out a favourite shirt of of yours that you hadn’t realized was shoved towards the back of a drawer. Wouldn’t it be nice to keep tabs on some of those things that might be disposed of otherwise?
I guess this is just a lengthy preamble as to why I’m creating this e-space to dog-ear and tuck away stories, photos, thoughts, and happenings – some mundane, some perhaps less so. Tuck them away to be reminisced over at a later date, when time has passed and life has shifted and changed in the ways it inevitably will. It might end up an experiment contained to three weeks in Europe, or it might go on for months (although I’ve never been one for consistency). Who knows. Either way, welcome and cheers to anyone who decides to wade through whatever honest ramblings come out of this.