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I Will Remember You. Will You Remember Me?

A scrim. It’s a theatrical device. Essentially a translucent piece of fabric, it’s usually employed to evoke specific feelings in the audience. Fog perhaps. A scene illumined by odd light and shadow. The dead of night.

Times past.

My memory works like a scrim. Things happened to me behind it. People move. They change. Scenery advances and contracts. The play is there, but the outlines are muted, fuzzy.

That’s the way I’ve always felt about the town of my birth. Few people would guess, but I am a Tennessean, hailing from a town outside of Nashville called Springfield. Right after I was born, my parents moved us to another town, giving me a few random experiences in the place of my spawning before we left it all behind the scrim when I was four years old. To me, it’s always been this mythic, misty place, separated from me by hundreds of miles and decades that wove a heavy veil over my memory.

My seminal memory from the place of my birth happened before I was two. I sit in a car with my Mom across the street from a boxy building on a hill with a filmy green lawn. Her voice is there, but I can’t see her when she tells me that building was the place I breathed for the first time, the intersection where I became me, started living in front of the scrim of whatever comes before we existed. Not seeing that structure for over forty years didn’t mean I forgot it. The edges were blurred, maybe, and the colors were off, but I still conjured what I saw with my baby eyes on the stage of my mind.

Yesterday, I viewed it again. The same sloping hill. The windows. The odd mish-mash of rectangles and squares. The site that gave me life, tarnished and uncovered, preening in front of the scrim of my recollection.

I sat in the car in the parking lot, afraid to get out and walk. Instead, I talked to some of you right here, used your words to give me the courage to see the place again. A concrete stair. The smell of asphalt. Sunlight glaring from glass. People buzzing around me as I stood underneath a portico and cried alone.

It was the same. And, it wasn’t. A trick of the scrim that highlights some bits while shielding others. I don’t know what I expected. The earth didn’t move; yet, it did. The air wasn’t different; yet, it was. Traffic still whizzed along the roadway; yet, it stood still. Seconds ticked by; yet, time stopped. I didn’t want to feel anything; yet, I felt everything. Sadness and euphoria. Pain and ecstasy. Laughter and tears. Anger and joy. Frustration and purpose.

I imagine if I could see my birth through the scrim of my consciousness, that’s what I’d feel. All of it. At once.

Too Much is Just Enough: Remembering Again

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nicely done. Fantastic imagery and emotions. Plus, you being from Tennessee explains a lot…. 😉

    September 9, 2011
    • Pulling this post off after a very emotional day was a feat. What kind of feat, I don’t know………

      September 9, 2011
  2. That is why you can never go home again, at least to a childhood home. The memories have taken on a life of their own as one moves through life and the reality never matches the memory.

    I have done the same thing a couple of different times and found that there really wasn’t anything there for me, just a place and smaller than I recalled.

    Unless going home again includes family and friends to visit and revive memories, it’s just a place. The most important part of memories are the people we care about and the experiences we have with those people.

    September 9, 2011
    • I don’t think of this place as ‘home.’ It has always been just a place in my mind, but one that held a vivid memory from a time when I shouldn’t recall anything about my life. I wanted to relive that memory because it haunts me so often, and I don’t know why.

      What was even more bizarre to me is that I found my godmother’s old house without directions. She’s been dead for a long time, but her daughter still lives in that house. I have another technicolor movie memory from that house, and it was surreal to stand on that porch yesterday and talk to her elderly daughter. She didn’t remember me, but that wasn’t the point. It was a gift to see it again and know my scattered memories of being there are anchored to something.

      September 9, 2011
  3. Bittersweet.

    You can always put me right beside you Andra. By reading what you’ve written I KNOW how you felt and can relate. Thank you. You are very gifted. So very glad I found your blog.

    September 9, 2011
    • Lori, I am so glad you read my blog and interact here. People never know how much others need to hear words, but I needed yours today. Thank you. xo

      September 9, 2011
  4. Lovely. Very well written.

    Another from the past about turning back the hands of time. http://youtu.be/JTdx8rEaV9Q

    September 9, 2011
  5. Bits and pieces of our past . . . I think those things remain rooted in some seldom-mined part of our subconscious, and we have no control over what portions intermittently float to the surface. Your post today dislodged some for me. Thanks!

    September 9, 2011
    • People often tell me that my blog dislodged their own memories of things forgotten. I am glad this post spoke to you that way.

      September 9, 2011
  6. “…I felt everything. Sadness and euphoria. Pain and ecstasy. Laughter and tears. Anger and joy. Frustration and purpose.”

    Life is good. Knowing and sharing with you is good… 🙂

    September 9, 2011
    • Thanks for reading and always letting me know when turns of phrase do things for you.

      September 9, 2011
  7. This may sound like a cop out, but you know when something is so beautiful or well written, there’s nothing left to say? That’s how I feel about this post.

    September 9, 2011
  8. Angie, precisely my feelings on this one. Exceptional!

    September 9, 2011
  9. Andria #

    I agree with Angie and Cheryl. This post is so lovely it took my breath away, and my words right along with it….

    September 9, 2011
    • That means a lot to me, coming from a writer like you. xo

      September 9, 2011
  10. This is very special, and moving. That place is a form of ‘home’ for you, and yet not home. Possibly we all have special places in our hearts and memory that pull in opposite directions, in spite of the years. I identify, and thank you.

    September 9, 2011
    • It is strange, because I think of it more as ‘the place I come from’ than home. The place I started my journey, if that makes sense.

      September 9, 2011
  11. Lucie Mitchell #

    When I was very young I underwent a series of daily shots in my hip – for how long I have no idea. One evening about 20 years later, and entirely unbeknownst to my conscious mind, I was right across the street from the place I would get my daily shots. I had the most incredible burst of adrenaline and panic for reasons unknown – until I came back to my body and recognized the caduceus on the once familiar building. It was an odd and freaky moment.

    September 10, 2011
    • Lucie, that is freaky. Did you feel better after you realized what was happening?

      September 10, 2011
  12. We were on the same wavelength during the time of this post. I also wrote about my childhood, including going back in time. My family moved to SC from Colorado when I was in second grade, so I feel like a lot of my earliest memories in Colorado are also a little fuzzy. http://www.lauracatherine.co/2011/09/09/what-would-you-tell-her/

    September 10, 2011
    • I had been planning to write this post for a while, because I knew it would be a good exercise. But, I really wasn’t prepared for how I felt. I am so glad I did it, even though I was scared.

      September 10, 2011

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