I enjoy things for awhile. On spring days, I stop to drink in the breeze. After the first snowfall, I gaze out my window with wonder. When I get new shoes and sweaters, I admire them before I wear them knowing they will never again look as good as they do brand new. But after the first few weeks of spring have passed, I long for summer. I hate snow after it’s been grounded long enough to turn brown and yellow and slushy. And usually after I wear shoes and sweaters for one season, they sit for years unworn, untouched and unadmired.
This is just the way I am. I never thought much about it until the day I realized that all of the things I loved once seem to stick around much longer than normal.
Going through my old drawers at my parent’s house is like treasure hunting. Little bits and pieces of myself are strewn about like buoys on an unsettled sea. It’s perfectly rational to assume that in one journey through an old drawer I might find a hall pass from first grade, some homework from middle school, pictures of friends from eighth grade, a diary, notes from boyfriends and every single pair of glasses I’ve ever worn. And that’s just the beginning. I’ll be able to recall every outfit I was wearing as each memory was made. I’ll know what I ate that day and what I felt like inside. I’ll remember the first time I went to school with the Holly Hobby glasses on. I’ll remember the way I felt when the kids laughed at me. I’ll always remember that.
And I hold on to memories the same way I hold onto shards of what was once my childhood. I cling to them actually- as if they are life preservers or time machines. I cry sometimes because I want to go back, back to when the memory happened. If only I could live it one more time. I think it’s because I feel like it’s up to me to remember them forever. Like if I don’t, they will disappear into some abyss where all of the old memories go. A place where no one will ever think of them any more. And because it's my job to keep them out of that abyss forever, forever has become my curse.
Forever is as long as I think I’ll remember what it was like to say goodbye. The chill in the air. The feeling that something great was ending. I’ll remember sitting in my car, fighting back tears on my way home. I’ll remember the day I packed that car up and moved home from college. And I’ll remember the ache I get every time I drive back through that town. I just don’t know what I’m aching for.
I remember the way certain words could make me sing or tear me in two in a second. I remember glances and emails and walks. I know I’m still holding on, I just don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to let go. At least, I haven’t yet. Let go, I mean. I guess I’m afraid that if I let go, I won’t remember.
I want to know the required holding on time before we can release some attachment to a memory without completely forgetting the people and places that make it up. Trees release their leaves in autumn, after the color has been perfected and admired. They let their leaves go and then, grow new ones that are just as beautiful and colorful and crisp and perfect. New leaves for shade, new colors for photographs and paintings and decorating lawns.
But when the leaves have fallen and the branches are streched naked toward the sky, no one forgets the splendor of autumn. Instead, we wait, anxiously, for another vibrant season. For that maple that sets our yard on brick red fire.