My memory has always been very good, so good in fact that my mother used to find it somewhat consternating by all the things I could recall perfectly even from a very young age. Just how my brain works to catalog all these memories is something I don't understand. I've heard people describe memories as kind of like a filing system which automatically brings a picture of filing cabinets and tons of file folders to mind each containing it's own memory. That image doesn't describe what I feel or see when I look at the past.
My memory happens to be more of a house of sorts. The first room is spacious, sunny, and colorful. And constantly changing. It's not outdoors, but somehow there are butterflies, flowers, and trees involved. The leaves on the trees shift as moment by moment little memories attach themselves, the butterflies flit about, the constant change seems to be because it's my short term memory, it's the life I'm living right now. Even when things go wrong this sunny room always stays sunny.
Things that need to be remembered longer are stored in the next room that keeps growing larger and larger every year to hold everything I need to store. It's in this sweet room where I wander into to look at memories. Things I enjoy replaying. Each one being its own unique shape, color, or item. There are shelves of books all with beautiful covers that I take down when I want to tell the children some little childhood memory. There are rows of glowing lights, not exactly chandeliers, but more than orbs, where memories of entire days of being a newly wed are stored. A huge silver framed mirror that can be pulled forward revealing where hundreds of little replica mirrors are hidden that hold every minute of our wedding day. Neatly wrapped little packages store memories of the dates Mr. Pepper and I had leading up to our wedding day. The birth of each of our children each has its own lovely memento. Flower vases, bouquets, and music boxes hold treasured memories of my mother. Indistinct colorful patterns on the walls hold memories of friends standing out only when an effort is made to locate something. Babies firsts are all in cozy baby toy and blanket packages. I could describe this room further, but I think you are starting to get the picture. One thing that does stand out in this room though is a section of wall, all by itself that is lined with little shields. These little shields have been manipulated. They've been shined, polished, and pieces removed to leave only the bits that I want to see, and the only bits that I have allowed my children to see. I have visited these manipulated shields so often, I have showed them to my children, to my friends, and to myself so often that sometimes even I don't remind myself where the remaining bits of these shields are. These shields happen to be the good memories I have of my Dad. Why they are in the form of a shield though I have never really figured out.
Wandering into the next room takes a little time to adjust my eyes after having been in the two previous beautiful rooms. It's shadowy, memories here are more dim and dusty. They're vivid enough when I open the item they are stored in, but mostly I don't visit this room very often.
And then there is this huge, ugly, dark, room that I keep locked with memories that make me cower in dread and pain. Every once in a while a black box will come tumbling down over the wall, but I've been practicing for years opening that door and flinging it back inside with out allowing myself to look at the contents and slamming the door shut before any others tumble out. It's in this room where the things I have chipped off those polished shields have been banished to. Everything in this room is a memory of my Dad.
I don't know why, but lately it feels as if maybe I need to go through that dark room. Like last night I woke up at 12:30 and spent hours trying to fling back an avalanche of black boxes before they burst open too wide. I didn't want to see the contents, but even though I didn't allow any boxes to fully open the pain was nearly overwhelming. Maybe I'll be brave enough soon .......