I’ve been thinking a bit about memory. I recently had a conversation where I’d roughly described what I’d been doing for the last 10 years. And the next day I thought, well, that’s sort of how that decade went but it also didn’t go like that.
I could have retold the story of those years – entirely truthfully – but painted a totally different picture by what I’d left in and kept out.
I write things down here and I also keep a diary, but I’m conscious of how the act of writing about an event can shape that telling of a story as being the “official” version.
And what I write here is influenced by how I’m feeling at the time and who I have in mind when I’m writing it. So, what if I don’t write something down and eventually forget about it as it’s not in my official history?
There’s a day I sometimes think back on as being a good day – Thursday, 14 April 2005. I was on holiday in Australia, and that day I drove from Kiama (on the New South Wales coast) up to Wollongong, then on to Sydney.
I remember it as being a brilliant day, I visited the art gallery in Wollongong, and cruised down the coastal highway, listening to The Fall in my rented Toyota.
But what I’d written in my diary at the time tells a totally different story: I was utterly miserable!
The day had taken me from a lovely seaside town, along the coast and into a confident metropolis. This couldn’t compete with Auckland and so the thought of having to go home in a couple of days made me feel really depressed.
I have a vague memory of mooching around my hotel room that evening, but I only really know my holiday had this effect on me because I wrote it down at the time.
The happy stuff – the good memories – are what have stuck around. The other details, like being disappointed with seeing “The Interpreter”, are fading.
Ask me about any event in my life and I’ll tell you a different story every time.
The fun is in the telling and the retelling, the perspective that time can bring. Let’s sit, let’s talk – I’ll tell you a brand new story you’ve already heard.
The authoress in happier/unhappier times.