"She glances at the photo,
and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes."
I am not who I am today.
It goes further back than that. It goes back to the concept of a memory box. The little items you carry around with you up to a certain time, and then store in a box. In the knowledge that they will be there the next time you take it out. Ready to instantly teleport you back to that first football game you attended with your dad. The buttered popcorn. The sip of beer he would let you have, as long as you promised not to tell your mother. Your favourite team losing, but it not really mattering, because here you were, in real life, with the popcorn, hot-dogs, the horribly bitter taste of beer in the back of your mouth, the proud glances he would send you, his only 11-year-old, and that you would pretend not to notice.
We saw the Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind together. It is a film about memory. Or about love. Mostly about memories of love. Memories that can make you cry on a bad day. The same memories that fill you with warmth, while curled up in front of the log-fire, on the rug, back against the sofa. All alone in the house. The steaming cup of cocoa between your hands illuminated only by the choir of flaming tongues and soft smattering of flying sparks.
I spent most of today writing a list of all my good memories. Today is a good day for writing such lists.
I once met a man who refused to take photographs on holiday. As a photographer, I had to ask him why he made such a decision. As a human being, he answered that the pictures never showed the bits he remembered from the holiday, even if they were right in front of him, in the form of photographic prints on the table. As my friend, he divulged that when he took pictures, he only ever remembered the scenes he photographed, and lost the fabric of the holiday. As my mentor, he taught me that the camera is not a way of keeping memories.
Neither are words.
For the hundreds and thousands of words out there, there are a million times as many memories. All of them are mine. Give me a stack of dictionaries, nay, give me the full vocabulary of the library of babylon, and I still shan't be able to put my memories into words. Fragments of them, perhaps. A minute detail of the fragrance, at most. A colour without shape, or a texture without context, on occation.
A black-and-white refraction through a dust-covered stained-glass window, if I am lucky.
So my list isn't one of anecdotes. No names. No places. Not even colours.
Reminders. Bookmarks for my memory.
A couple of words to trigger a barrage of emotions. Smiles, shivers, the sunshine itself. Tears, curiosity, the colour of her eyes in the moonlight on that one particular evening when she had forgotten to bring her umbrella, and allowed the rain to soak her to the skin. The way her hair hung down the sides of her face, a thin strand of it touching the edge of her lips, begging for me to softly stroke it away and kiss her.
Like the punch-lines of the in-jokes among old friends, the words are all there. Written in biro on assorted pieces of paper. Ready to pick them out of the deepest crincles of my mind when I need them.
Things never were what they used to be.
Which is why I love the memories.