Memory: The Greatest Storyteller of Our Time

intotheabyss‘Boobs’. That’s all it said. A text message I received today after a  lingering champagne hazed session of reacquainting myself with a long, lost lover and friend.

What made it so funny was that it came from a number I don’t recognize, likely someone I have known quite well, but deleted from my digital Rolodex of potential back-ups.  One of my BFF’s refers to me  as McBoobs, but it wasn’t her. ‘Boobs’. Somewhere out there, someone’s memory brought a story about my assets back to the front line of their mind, and prompted the ridiculous text.

Memory is a funny thing. It’s sly and agile, hiding itself for so long you forget that it’s there, and then suddenly, it floods your mind, heart and soul like a spring rainstorm, leaving turned earth, and a rainbow somewhere, if you remember to look for it.

storm and rainbowDrifting off to sleep after a conversation and a few tipples with a kindred spirit, my memory reminded me how wise some people can be. Stonewalling is my preferred method of detachment and emotional salve after the crumbling wall around my school-girl heart takes a hit. “You’ve been through a lot of hurt in your younger days just like me. It’s natural.” He gets it, I thought, as I drifted off to sleep. Somebody sees it.

Seeing each other; witnessing the life of friends brings meaning to life. Years pass and friendships either fade or strengthen, and the beauty of lasting friendships is that you know someone out there in the big ole’ nasty world of non-stop striving really sees who you are. They know you.

There’s something about someone having stood by while your soul was formed and hardened in the fire of life. When you forget who you are, these are the people who tell your story back to you, and so it is – this is memory – retelling who we are and how we arrived at this place. Right here. Right now, as we are, fully human and  divinely flawed.

Not often do I go back so far in my memory to recall some of the hardest times of my life. That means I’ve forgotten a lot of experiences that were part of reinventing myself as a young adult. Recently I’ve been drawn back to a time I had managed to all-but forget. A memory or two has been salvaged and laid at my doorstep by someone whom I was sure had forgotten me. It was my choice to pick it up and examine it, or kick it aside until it eventually grew over as part of a wild, tangled landscape. I’m curious by nature, so I couldn’t leave a gift like that unopened.

It’s a blessing and a curse this easy forgetting. I do this when things go wrong with people I love. Hurt turns quickly to anger and then I toss it away like a pebble to the bottom of a deep, cold lake that is incapable of giving up her dead.  Something gone forever unless someone else makes the effort to salvage it and lay it as a gift at your feet.

Storytelling is a great gift given to friends and lovers when they’ve forgotten how fabulous they are. It’s a little spark of madness in the melancholic night of adulthood, and a hit of adrenaline to whet your appetite for living.

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