“Memory” – not just a song from Cats.
Most of us have one person from our past that could really hit a nerve if they showed up in our current lives. This afternoon, after drinks at the FF, my person stepped out of the shadows, literally, and called my name. I hitched my wagon to this guy’s star back in ’99 and we drove across the country in a Westfalia I bought in Boston. We split in 2001 and I’ll just say here that it was ugly.
I spent a few years trying to push away that whole experience, and a few more years in therapy digging around to better understand what happened and how I can move on. The experience of having someone from my past suddenly appear was a little freaky, because it brought so much out of me all at the same time: surprise and shock, anger and sadness, recognition and nostalgia (indeed there were some good times), and overall, gratitude. At the time, and still now, at the end of a long night trying to grok all of this, I am struck by how much I’ve changed since then. Since him.
And yet. Something about the two of us seemed exactly the same. Frozen somehow in memory or time. He looked the same. He acted the same. A flood of memories washed over me and it felt as though I was swimming in a dream, fast asleep. Surreal. Scary and familiar. Thank you Christina for getting me out of there.
I spent a considerable amount of the rest of this Friday night killing brain cells. I see now that I just wanted to be numb to that confusing, cacophonous swell of emotions and memories that had me so disoriented. But now I’m home, finally winding down and willing to integrate this experience. What a trip.
I’m fascinated with how we make sense of our experiences. Perception and perspective. Memory, stories and identity. And time. It’s not like bumping into this person sent me back in time, but it did feel like some kind of significant, intricate spiral only with unexpected twists and turns. As if memory and experience already existed and time was leading me around in circles. I happened to pass the labyrinth recently installed in my neighborhood, and as I walked it, many versions of me throughout time seemed to be walking, too.
What is the science behind what happened to my brain during this encounter? The intense emotional rollercoaster, the disorientation, the eerie feeling that I was peeking backwards in time at the part of myself that is still wounded and weak and wondering. And the swimming, dreaming, otherworldliness as I tried to integrate the idea that this was really happening, this is reality. That wasn’t just the alcohol. That felt like some serious remylenation.
So that’s it. I can’t bring myself to post the website that describes the cat mating in detail. I did overhear a few complete strangers talking about cats in heat and this whole neck biting thing. It’s no coincedence; it’s just that time of year. Anyway, here’s a funny diorama.