I have a long memory.
A gift, according to my mother. This from the woman who has memorized thousands of facts about the world of science
but cannot remember what she had for breakfast or the name of her first grade
I, on the other hand, can tell you the cereal I had for breakfast on the day of my first communion
. Or name of the bus driver in Peru.
The first time I ever saw my father, I climbed up on his lap immediately. I didn't even know who he was yet. Just felt inexplicably drawn to this man. I pulled his face close to mine with both hands on cheeks and then proceeded to trace his beard around his jaw line with my index finger. I did it again. I closed my eyes. His eyes
were just like my eyes.
I was five
. And I've yet to forget what it was like to see those eyes.
I forget big moments of time. Big holes are left gaping in my memory: What happened that year? Are you sure it was then? Who was with me?
Sometimes, it is hard to put it together. What I am left with in memory are tiny pieces
of the whole. I've always figured they were much more important anyway.
The time I spent in New York
went so quickly I barely noticed it happening. It was months, I know this, but it passed like days.
Here is what I continue to remember about it: Underneath the window of my tenth floor apartment, you could look down and see a newspaper boy
standing against the building. Foot propped up on the brownstone and Yankees hat twisted slightly to the left. Headphones around his neck, never on his ears, and singing. I don't think he ever sold a paper, his stack left with him the same size as it had come. The doorman never ran him off.
I will get the big parts of the story if someone reminds me. Will remember dates and names and hours of endless conversation. Will recall things I thought I had long since forgotten
. Tiny details will do the same, bring long memories flooding back.
If you give me a rock to hold in my hand I will tell you of mountains
and forests and nature galore. I will give you birds singing and leaves rustling and wind at my back at the very top. Will tell of endless blue skies
and the exact shapes of the clouds on those days. I will give you cabins in Colorado
and a house in Idaho
and a few other places that are not really mountains but do just fine to suffice.
The taste of grapes brings back my grandfather and the vineyard
and everything that happened there. The texture of grapes on my finger will bring back stomping in a pit of them; trying to make wine the old fashioned way. How to do it and what to mix in and what to pick out and how to bottle it and how to drink it. All of this
from touching the fruit.
Walk me through the grocery store isle with the coffee bean hoppers and I will be reminded of almost every single person I have ever fallen in love with.
Details. Such small fractions
of the whole, like splinters stuck in my finger
. The details will always be in me, and I will always be in the details.