I have a lot of memories, and I mine them frequently for my fiction writing, and for blog posts on the Ball — but there’s little doubt in my mind that many of them are just plain wrong. I am notorious for not remembering things the way they really were, or for forgetting things altogether.
My brother teases me about this when we take little trips down memory lane. To illustrate his point, he simply has to say, “Glastonbury.” To which I say, “Huh?”
See, for two or three (or maybe more?) years of my life, I lived in a town in Connecticut that I really remember almost nothing of. I remember our address (38 Williams Street – see Tom, I didn’t forget everything!) and that our house was white and brick. I lived in the basement, which I painted purple. I remember the names of some of my friends, but in all honesty, most of that whole time period is a blur.
Yes, I was a teenaged stoner. Sort of a self-absorbed idiot, actually. But I should still be able to describe the way you got from our house to, say, the high school (I think it was so close I could walk…) or where we did our grocery shopping. (We must have gone shopping, right?)
My brother now lives quite close to Glastonbury and sometimes incorporates old landmarks into his conversation: “It’s right near Glen Lochen…” then he stops himself. “Oh, that’s right. You don’t remember Glastonbury.”
But I do remember some things. Like one year, when we lived in Glastonbury, my grandmother announced we weren’t going to have Christmas (she was upset, no doubt by the two difficult, ungrateful teenagers living with her, one of whom remembered nothing). In the 11th hour, my friend Billy and I stole a tree from a lot, took it home and got my grandmother drunk on high octane eggnog – so drunk she sang O Tannenbaum all the way through in German, tottering around our beautifully trimmed tree. It’s one of those memories I cherish, all bright and shimmery at the edges.
So Tom, if you’re reading this, and it isn’t really the way it happened, don’t you dare tell me. Don’t tell me that I paid actual money for the tree or that Grandma didn’t really sing that song. Let me remember this one the way I want to, the way my brain and heart say it should have been, even if it’s not exactly the way things really happened.