No Such Thing as a Memory

This morning I am moving so slowly I can see the minutes lining up behind me. And I think suddenly of standing in line for milk at some elementary school. I remember the texture of my dress. The smell of the dry air, and the sour, sick smell of leaked milk that sticks to the small cartons. It is a singular memory of a singular moment, but I can sense the edges of what is familiar here. When the memory jumps from my body to my mind and I know I would have had a turn at distributing milk to the students who all line up like the teacher’s ducks in a row.

If I try hard to remember that day – or one of those days – what are the odds that it is a construction not based in actual experience at all?

Maybe it is best not to think of memories as things. What if there is no such thing as a memory? Only a remembering, as ephemeral and myopic as any other lived experience. I like the idea that there is nothing but activity.

Remembering as the breathing of a shadow self, quantum constructions/constructing. What if trying to remember is a two-year-old thinking they’re steering the car with their toy steering wheel? Angry and perplexed when a hard left doesn’t result in a hard left.

I can’t remember.

I have a shadow self with her double DNA. All the damage done in the mitochondria: those absorbed creatures with their own maternal lineage. These energy powerhouses. This energy – the shadow quality that drives a body through the days. Moving fragments of experience around like a windstorm in late autumn. Or causing a single leaf to tremble, to spin on a spider’s web, like an early morning, summer breeze.

3 Replies to “No Such Thing as a Memory”

  1. Biology and memory. Fascinating. The thread through much of your writing. Thanks, as always, for sharing.

    1. It is the core of the piece I am working on now – weirdly found its way into the play I wrote with the students, too.

  2. Wow, I hadn’t thought of the milk line in years…decades, probably. And at reading this–tactile and visual and olfactory memories sprang to mind.


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