After reaching my thirties, and looking back over my life to the people and places I once knew, I got the urge to excavate some of those past crypts of memory. Late one night in lachrymose enthusiasm, I taped off the area to excavate like a skilled archaeologist and using the current tool of choice for digging up one's past, I logged onto Myspace. Perhaps you haven't heard of Myspace, and perhaps you've also been living under a rock on Tristan da Cunha. (I'm convinced even the teens from the tribes of the most uncivilized parts of the world have Myspace pages. Let's imagine that for a moment, if you will: raucous tribal music, earthy layouts full of ancient symbolism, an adopted "monkey" and pictures of long-breasted women sporting the latest style of plate lip. Ah, the imagination boggles at the decorative diversity of these equal opportunity World Wide Web real estate plots.)
So, in honest pursuit of finding physical evidence of those recollections and people I held so dear in my youth, I entered the cluttered metropolis of memory armed with my map of recall, kept in a manner enviable to the original copy of the Declaration of Independence, and began digging.
To my astonishment I found the map was wrong. Many of the streets had changed names if not direction; the landmarks were undersized and underwhelming; the colors were muted. Is it possible memory has failed me? Has my idea of the past been a huge work of fiction? I'm suspect.
I have found that memory, over time, has a way of smoothing over the bad bits and illuminating only the positive. This isn't all bad really. Maybe it's in the name of self-preservation. I offer this example:
When I was about 16, a group of friends and I went wandering around downtown San Antonio late one night. We got the bright idea to climb a fire escape to the top of a tall building. So cloak and dagger style, we climbed to the top. It was exhilarating, so exquisitely daring (owed partly to the fact that I'm deathly afraid of heights). We hung out at the top of that building in the cool night air with the view of the whole city before us, anonymously watching life move around us below. Nice picture. I enjoy that memory very much.
However, if pushed, I have to admit the down sides. First, as I mentioned before, I'm deathly afraid of heights. Second, the stench of roof tar is something that can stick around your olfactory senses for days. Third, we were sitting around on a roof covered in the pigeon's greatest and most copious contribution to the world: crap.
So, all in all, the moral of this story is this: I prefer cheese. Yes, cheese. Before telescopes and, apparently, logic, some humans thought the moon was made of cheese. How wonderful! How whimsical! Then the truth reared its ugly reasonable head and revealed instead of a giant wheel of well-aged Parmesan, a barren rock wasteland stared blankly at us instead.
But maybe it's not that simple after all. Maybe the landscape and inhabitants have not changed. Then something occurred to me and this something seemed to make sense. A la Occam's razor, all things being equal the simplest solution is the best. Could it be I have changed? Could be.
Either way, I'll just take the cheese, thanks.