I always assumed that memories were accessible whenever you needed them most, like Apple Care representatives or Wal-Mart. I envisioned future-Morgan sitting in some hip, big-city café sipping a latte while engaging some intelligent, handsome man in a dialogue about the happenings of my youth. Memories would flow, his eyes would widen, and soon, he’d be in love with me. Mission accomplished.
I’ve waited for this scene to play out for a while. I realized recently that, while optimistic, it’s never gonna happen—not only the far-fetched narrative of the good-looking coffee shop man, but the memory part too.
For this unfortunate memory-retaining optimism, I blame authors. They write as though they remember everything—the smallest detail of that one time when they were six and accidently shoved a berry up their nose. I thought I could write like this too—and then I tried. My inability to produce a single childhood memory about a specific subject on command made me wonder whether non-fiction authors thrive off of embellishment…is it possible to remember these ultra-specific accompanying details, let alone entire memories? Whatever the case, with every memoir and autobiography that I read, I become more aware of the unrealistic expectations I’ve cultivated about the power of my memory.
To clarify, I don’t have Alzheimer’s or any other mind-altering disease. My brain is relatively normal, I think, and I can remember a wealth of information along with many experiences I’ve had. There are some subjects, though, that my mind simply refuses to relive. It’s not because they are negative memories, but because I didn’t know I needed to remind myself to remember them. And now, when I’m working hardest to experience them again, I can’t. It’s heartbreaking to think that I can’t extract the thoughts that could make me happiest.
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