love is more thicker than forget.
– ee cummings
There is a park in my hometown that was built on a toxic waste dump. I played baseball there and remember warm evening sun and tanned faces, the feeling of the ball in my glove as I grabbed it from the sky, and the nervous excitement that came with every at bat. A park built over a garbage dumb, how novel. Yet mid-season one year, we switched practice locations. Apparently, the cancer rates among the inhabitants of the park’s surrounding houses were astounding. They closed the park, erected a giant white dome, and men wearing what appeared to me at the time to be space suits, were seen all over the south side of the tracks. I remember the phone call about the new practice location, the closing of the park for cleaning, the new back alley route I needed to take to get to my friend’s house since his street was under the dome, but my brother told me something yesterday that would have sounded like a distant lie if he hadn’t insisted on its truth, that when the dome was up, I told people it was our town’s concentration camp. Besides being inappropriate and insensitive, it makes absolutely no sense. How my brain went from space suits to World War II Germany is beyond my comprehension. I am offended by a statement I myself made, and more than that, have no recollection of making it.
I am at the point in my life when I start forgetting things. A fifteen-year-old need only remember inside jokes and the names of acquaintances for a decade of life. As that becomes two decades, as it has for me, as the events and information in life doubles, some things simply slip away. Memory is not a filing cabinet to be sorted, organized, and called upon in a manilla folder, nor can a year be measured in gigabytes. Recollection is a dangerous and cruel angel that seems to have no reason to its selection. The scent of a girl passing behind me in a Paris café seems to last longer than entire years of my life. I struggle to remember the texture of my grandmother’s hands yet can tell you the telephone number of a soccer coach I had and hated in elementary school. And then there are the memories that leave with no goodbye, stories lost, and without them, I am left with an incomplete picture of myself at a given age. Photographs present me with a complete image of myself but absent is the backstory, the whole picture. Photographs can be penetrating and perplexing because of this — I remember this shirt, but what is that wall behind me?
That was once my smile?