Happier times

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.

When I read back what I’d written online at the time (part one and part two), that more or less matches what I like to remember of the day, give or take a few minor details.

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.

Robyn in car

The authoress in happier/unhappier times.