I just know that, for a first post, this is going to come out sounding angsty, pretentious, or pseudointellectual, but I was thinking about it today and thought “This is exactly the kind of thing people blog about!”
So the question is, what’s the difference between an actual memory, and a memory of a story that you’ve told a million times? When does it cross the line from being something you actually perceived to a retelling of a plot line that just happens to be your life? I can sit here and tell you, like I told a friend today, the entire narrative of the major failures I’ve had in the past. But by now it feels rote. It’s a story I tell, a diary entry I’ve written. There’s a disconnect from the parts that were years ago, because I don’t remember them anymore. I can’t tell you any more details, if pressed, because they’re not part of the general story, and there isn’t a vision or a captured moment anymore to look around and pull more parts from. Even some parts that continue to have an emotional charge still feel distant, like I’m empathizing with a beloved character in a novel, not like it happened to me.
Which gets me even more confused about what memories actually are. I sometimes wonder, if I made up a story, but wrote it in my diary as if it were true, and told enough people the story as if it were true, if a year later I would wholeheartedly believe it to be true? I don’t think I’ve done that; I like to think I’m generally honest about the stories of my life. But I’m almost certain it would be possible.
So I end up relying on a system where the things I believe to be most real are the stories I can corroborate with other people. And that’s a flimsy version of reality, at best. Which is why I started journaling, on February 14, 2010. I write things as honestly as I can, as soon as I can, because that’s something that I can corroborate any story with and know that I remember it accurately. But things that I don’t write down tend to slip away. And that, frankly, terrifies me. What will I really remember a year from now? Ten?