The Face on the Mantle

“But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantlepiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person.” ~ George Orwell, Why I Write

I have a bad memory.

To the point that my partner often makes fun of me for “not listening” or that he gets to tell the same story at least a few times before I’ll remember it (hey, keeps things fresh!). It also may have a bit to do with my obsessive list-making and impulse to journal.

It’s one of the reasons I’m so fascinated with people’s stories.

Stories reconstructed from blazingly clear recall, or hazy, frost-covered part-truths.

Ones we piece together no matter our ability to recover the ‘reality’ – building, tearing down, molding with each utterance.

Times that we call ‘defining’ then struggle to grasp her name, his exact hair color, the sound as they sang.

Seemingly insignificant moments that break through, the feel of the raw wood, the color of the grass, the heat of the sun.

Taught by our history that some meaning lies amongst the scattered fragments, it is up to us to define it.

I do not recognize the girl I once was, nor the woman of even a year ago. I forget exactly how she feels, how she moves in the world, what it’s like when she breathes deep.

Yet I am her, and she me.

At some point we may find our convergence, our meaning, our one singular story.

But not yet.

***

The Art of the Everyday – February 20: Old faces, new places. Do you recognize who you used to be?

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