When I was writing Keepsake and imagining its title, I was reading a lot of quotes about memory, a key theme of the story. Well. Everything about the story, really. But the point is, I have a fixation with memories. I’m just realizing that now as I catalog the themes of my novels…
I guess anyone who journals rabidly and blogs and writes and documents could probably have guessed this. I never said I was sharp.
Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant. ~Salvador Dali
Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders. ~William Faulkner
Yeah, most of them are about how our memories are worthless, for being changeable. I’m paraphrasing. I haven’t decided how I feel about that, so I’ll probably keep writing about it, even though I think Keepsake helped me parse some of it.
ANYWAY. The point is, my brain is a wonderland. I was sitting, minding my own business, melting into a puddle of “I’ve just finished writing”/“The rabid squirrels have been released!” when by some unknown wizardry, BAM:
Smelled this. Nostrils. Invaded. I mean, obviously not because I haven’t fed this to my son in ten full and thorough years, aside from which I haven’t lived in the UK in said stretch of time so that it is impossible that I should have smelled this baby food. But my brain decided to pretend. The thing is, and I don’t even know how this is possible – I smelled it in the freezing cold that was our kitchen in Bangor. You’re not getting it. YES, cold has a smell (it does) but I was smelling the feeling.
I know what I smelled.
Okay, but that wasn’t even the last weird time-leap-memory-smell thing. Before I went to bed, BAM:
Childhood. California. Walking with my mom and siblings. Eating off of trees. I don’t even know if these are the plums we had because I am pretty sure God discontinued them and it has been one of the great treasure hunts of my life, about which I will someday pen an epically tragic memoir in the vein of Lisa Simpsons’ “My Own Mother Gave My Last Cupcake Away.”
I will never have that texture and taste and smell back, except randomly, when I’m awake at 3am and delirious from writing.
Thanks for comin’ out.
Postscript: Upon reviewing this post, I suspect I should schedule an MRI, just to be safe.