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" I'm a Believer | 2008 | Sister To Sleep "

11.20.08 10:46 p.m.

An error is the more dangerous the more truth it contains. 

-Henri-Frédéric Amiel


On Remembering

It is easy to believe the stories we tell ourselves, especially if no one has the evidence that will promptly and definitively contradict. Quickly, possibly instantly, something artificial supplants what was objectively real. Maybe it is more convenient or flattering to remember something false, but it is usually unconscious. Lapses in memory are rarely malevolent, almost by their nature cannot be since we would have to consciously acknowledge that which we are subconsciously exaggerating or minimizing.

We all do it and we all get defensive if we are accused of it, no matter how true it might be. How dare someone impugn what is more sacred to us, our recollection of the past that brought us to this moment. They might as well call everything we are into question as to suggest we might be misremembering some minute detail. But, as I've begun to belabor in these entries, our recall is all too fallible and easy to flatter. If memory is the chronicler of our life, it has a side job writing fantasy.

I have been proofreading old entries, from the beginning of my deciding to sort my life out so publicly, to give myself a way to look productive when there is a lull at work. I was not as fastidious about using a spell checker when I started writing and I have reformatted the files a few dozen times over the years to suit how I currently felt my thoughts should appear, resulting in missing and mangled code which makes some entries render hideously as they try to appear as something they have not been since 2001.

After Emily left me for Tim, I told people how I started our relationship having middling at best feelings for her and very slowly came to love her, especially in the last year when I was getting quite confident that marriage might be a grand idea. I've just recently gotten to the entries when I first met Emily and, even though I am aware that I overemphasized what I was feeling partly to convince myself I was over my then ex-girlfriend Kate (with whom I'd been going on tentative dates together, prior to her insisting that I needed to get a girlfriend who wasn't her), I truly did love Emily very quickly in a way that then made me uncomfortable. And I know what I am going to do to her in the "future" of the entries, how I am going to be distant and scared, how I am going to want other people and make her suffer for staying by my side as I grew up enough to be a decent person to her. How I am going to leave her for several weeks and then sleep with her in that interim because I didn't know what I wanted, how I am going to kiss Kate just after reuniting with Emily because Kate will offer and some part of me I will still want that very badly. I wince knowing what I am in for, as though I am reading a slowly unraveling novel for the tenth time and wish the protagonist would not be so damnably foolish this time. Even before coming to this beginning with Emily - though I think I currently have a clearer view of it than anything involving my most recent ex - I see what a pain in the ass I was to Kate, with whom I couldn't reconcile my feelings. Who, then, couldn't figure out who she wanted me to be in her life. Emily once let me read one of her diary entries, where she wrote of how she never thought she would measure up to Kate or Sarah, a sentiment that was hilarious when I read it, since Sarah and I were barely friends at the time of my reading. Now, Kate is one of my best friends, albeit one whom I never see. I don't know how much longer Sarah or Emily will be speaking to me, the former because she won't discuss her present and the latter because I sometimes feel she wants to see a different past to justify her future. As much as I have been guilty of it, I can't stomach the thought of anyone else creating a retroactive continuity in which I feature prominently.

People keep pointing out that they don't understand why I was making any attempt to retain contact with the woman who, in their estimation, thought so little of me that she would string me along for her convenience. And I realize that this was because, while I couldn't really lose the memories given how fixated I once was on her star, I didn't want to give up the remaining vestiges of the person who once made me so happy before she made me so sad. I can't exactly console myself that she isn't the same person I was with, as I tried so hard to do when Kate left me (to my current and sincere embarrassment). Emily is exactly who she was when she was with me, though justifiably distant from the girl I first kissed on my bedroom floor after days of wanting to know the taste of her lips.

Cleaning up these more concrete memories, reaffixing a past in my mind I managed to let grow fuzzy, reminds me of how much I have lost, how many chances and moments I cast away for an ability to travel more lightly. While it wasn't something I was aware I let happen, allowing all but the essential memories to drift unorganized in my mind permitted some wander too far. I read my past iteration's annoyance about a boy stalking me and I have no idea what I'm talking about. Clearly this was a grating situation, but I've yet to find the key that will open the box in which I've stored this memory's background. Pseudonyms to protect anonymity robbed people of their individual identities and I feel I've lost these puzzle pieces entirely. Yet the edges of some pieces grow more defined as I reread what seemed quite commonplace at the time and requite remarkable now. I think, once I can put more in their context, I can almost see patterns forming enough to create a whole picture of who I was and why. With those in position, I can more clearly see who I am now and - maybe - who I will become.

Soon in Xenology: Cuddling, Christmas, independence.

last watched: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
reading: For Whom the Bell Tolls
listening: Nixon

" I'm a Believer | 2008 | Sister To Sleep "

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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