My memory starts early in my childhood. People are talking, I am part of it and it feels like a movement, like wanting to catch light with my hand.
Ice melts, someone laughs.
Clouds drifting, white before blue.
Forest fully inhaling, before green.
Lightly the leaves unfurl
Being I cannot will, only invite. It opens up or not. Fleeting, fragile, light and one hundred percent. Sometimes I already feel in the middle of the moment that this will be a memory. Is it the intensity of the experience, this joyful sensation that something is there now and is passing away, as it were. Happiness fading away. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel this blowing away even with pain?
I wish I had a sense of memory. Just as I have a fine sense of taste, just as I enjoy seeing, feel rough and smooth, distinguish smells and sounds orient me in space. This sense of memory does not help me avoid bad ones. What will remain as a moment of bad memory of this time? The author Daniel Schreiber says we actually live through it in a constant alternation of repression and wakefulness.
We always imagine things remain, exist, are permanent. We direct our navigation towards them, our goals, our use of materials and energy. Our priorities. And then everything comes differently. “Yet we are already someone different after lunch than before lunch,” a friend says with a laugh. However, we believe in this continuum, which promises us a sense of security.
I am a keeper. When others labour to clear out the home of deceased parents, I think of my collections. A friend’s mother had countless nail scissors, a friend’s father hundreds of hangers. In my flat I store uselessly beautiful things in drawers and boxes. Precious papers, painted stones, books of course, but also a jumper from my childhood that I associate with having felt free and my mother’s English dictionary. Tying memories to physical things has gone out of fashion.
This morning I bought lupines at the market. The 70s are ringing in my head: From the back seat of the VW Variant, I look at the edge of the newly built motorway and see hundreds of them as the first flowers on the barren verges.
Memories are like finely branched roots in this time in which we search for trust in the change of shock and destruction. Some things will remain broken. And nevertheless, Hilde Domin would say, “The tree blossoms anyway.”