“I’m not going to tell this story the way it really happened. I’m going to tell it the way I remember it.”
About halfway through the process of unearthing these stories – my stories – I stopped asking questions. I stopped asking my mom for all the details. I stopped asking my dad about specific events. I stopped rifling through picture boxes and staring at Polaroids for hours on end in an attempt to excavate the authentic details of my story. With the letting go of my questions, freedom came. Freedom to ask different questions. And the answers I found were messy, jagged and wrought with deeper truth.
We don’t remember life chronologically, in completed murals or tapestries. We remember a smell or a sound or the texture of a moment. A stroke in our days. A thread in our past. I remember the way the tree across the street shed its golden leaves late in October. The lingering moments when mom tucked me in and pushed “play” on my Fisher-Price tape player so I could fall asleep to music. Pretending to be a waitress on the giant front porch as April raindrops splattered the white ledge and brown steps.
And now, I see that these moments have added up to make me. Those glimmers of the past with their unanswered questions have answered so many of my questions about who I am and where I’m going. The trifles of my life overflow from these pages and taper off – unpolished, unfinished and inaccurate – to become the most prized and necessary pieces of a puzzle.
I wish I could remember more without a crutch. Without the pictures, trinkets and blanks filled in by mom. But the well of my memory is deep, too. It is my reservoir, my source, my truth. And these pages are those truths – they are a version of my days.