Memory

Even the oldest of us was young once.

I remember being a child, surprised by pictures of my father when he was half the age. The sepia tone colors, faded edges; how the only wrinkles were on the photos and not his face. The full head of hair, emaciated body and bright smile.

The tragedy of each decade of life is how much of it is spent mourning the passing of the previous one.

I’m sitting in a bedroom of old memories; comforted by ghosts of young girl who once was. I told my therapist once that the sessions were like stepping into a room filled with filing cabinets I couldn’t see the end of. They were painful, random, hilarious, gut-wrenchingly sad, and deliriously happy.

When she told me she could no longer continue I felt the grief in my throat. Loneliness, darkness. The key to the filing room lost in the black, cavernous depths of my own overwhelming emotion.

You feel too much.

You shouldn’t let things get to you.

You’re a good-for-nothing crybaby.

Each decade they always regurgitate the same lesson in different dressing. The negatives of choosing to continue.

The past few years I took the advice. Slid most of what I could behind so many erratic sins. Folded the rough edges of myself into something unrecognizable; uncriticized, unremarkable.

My brother asks me over the receiver, “How do you feel?

I breathe. Close my eyes so I can see his. Listen to his voice. The decades of memories I have attached to it make it so hard to lie. “Afraid, insecure, confused.” I am choking on my own words.

“How can we get Jenny’s groove back?”

All of what we are morphs into comforting laughter. Tears spill onto my neck, matting my hair to my face.

My sister in law asked me how old I was three times this week. I answered wrong every time.

Time feels nonlinear. Emotions and feelings trapped in stasis paralyzes perception.

I want to remember this feeling. Cling onto it and freeze the words, the moments, into letters across a page.

I want to remember the cold winter of my life. The brutality of confusion and daze mixed with aimlessness and abandon.

I want to remember each day of snow; of icy fingers and blurry eyes. The terrible feeling of immobilization and the crippling of my own mental sabotage.

I want to remember the long winters and the frightening nights. The cold, distant thoughts that come repeating, crashing and constant to shore. When I’m still, alone and quiet I can feel the rippling of all of my negative thoughts barreling in like water rising to a boil.

I want to remember this winter and all of the sober, throbbing pain.

I want to remember that winter comes to bring the spring.

I want to remember that even the iciest of tears will melt into the ground to regrow gentle, warm life.

I want to remember that ‘lost’ means possible to be found; and ‘sad’ just means capable of happy.

I am drowning, but I am not drowned.

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