what I know about…remembering

Everything I know about memories I learned from Harry Potter.

I went through a feng shui stage a while ago. I think it lasted as long as most of my phases last.

Anyways, I put the mappy thing over the plan of our house- including the attached garage. I figured that because it was under the roofline, it counted.

Right in the money part was the far corner of the garage.

In that corner is a brass firebox filled with horse brasses and the types of big copper plates and ornaments that you’d find in an English pub. They belonged to an Aunt of Mr T’s who moved out from Scotland.

We haven’t looked at the contents for over 20 years, yet he won’t get rid of it. Sentimental, he says.

When I ask about the aunt he can’t remember her without remembering her bitterness, her pessimism and her dislike of her new home and everything about it.

He says the ugly brass stuff (my description, not his) is sentimental simply because the person who owned it all is dead and was related to him. I say the memories are poisonous and are choking up the money part of our house.

The stuff doesn’t mean anything to him, but he’s hanging on to it because he thinks it should mean something. He’s Taurus Rising so memories have a stubborn physical manifestation for him.

I don’t hang onto physical things.

Stuff is often like psychological booby traps that remind you of failure or pain- the jeans you can no longer fit into, the half finished project that you once had such great hopes for but now languishes as representation of something else that hasn’t been completed.

I have this theory that stuff you hang onto holds with it memories of who you used to be rather than who you are now.

When I reinvent myself, I like that reinvention to be clean.

In the car the other morning I found myself singing (with great enthusiasm) all the words to Welcome Back Kotter.

This isn’t as strange as it sounds, given that English artist Rumer has just re-recorded it. Or perhaps it is strange in that the last time I heard the song would have been over 30 years ago.

The same thing happened the other night when I, from nowhere, remembered the lyrics (all the lyrics) to some crappy burning bridges song from some crappy 1970 Clint Eastwood movie that Mr T was watching. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen the movie. I must have heard the song once before.

I remember stuff like that.

I remember the houses we lived in. I can describe in detail the lino of the floor of the house we lived in when I was 3.

I remember flashes of what people wore- the Bo Peep wedding dress and bridesmaids from my uncles’ 2nd wedding (seriously, how could you forget that?)- but I don’t remember the people.

In fact I don’t remember much about anything from my childhood or teenage years- except all the words to the McDonalds ad, or the jingle from the World Series Cricket and How Do You Feel Tooheys ads…and the lyrics to a million cheesey songs.

My family remember the things we did and the people we did them with. I don’t.

I’m not sure what that says about me.

I think that’s what all the lyrics and houses are- the layers of vials that sit in front of the vials that sit in front of the vials I don’t want to bring out and tip into the pensieve.

I don’t think there’s any coincidence that most of these trivial memories are from my teenage years. They’re from times when I was physically ok, but didn’t feel emotionally secure.

Don’t get me wrong- I’ve been blessed with an easy life- relatively speaking…touch wood. My painful memories aren’t much worse than the usual teenage angst.

We moved every couple of years so I constantly felt either hemmed in or isolated, but rarely that I belonged. I don’t want to ever feel like that again.

I think I remembered all of that meaningless guff- the lyrics, the lines, the outfits, the houses- so that I don’t have room in my head to remember the crap.

I remembered the trivial so I could keep the vial cabinet locked.

I was a smart kid, so surely there were times where I felt the pride of accomplishment? Surely there were times when I was happy rather than angsty?

Try as I might, I have problems re-creating the good stuff from back then.

I think I have buried the things that cause pain so deeply that the trivial blocks the good memories too.

These days I’m better able to file the vials a little more maturely. The cabinet’s no longer locked. It’s probably also why I don’t retain quite as much trivia.

These days when I travel, I buy one thing that reminds me of the places I’ve been. The rest is in my heart, and in the photos I’ve taken and the journals I write.

These days when I stuff up, rather than blocking the memory of the outcome I can remember the cool stuff that happened too- and enjoy it all over again.

Music has always been the key to my vial cabinet, and certain songs will still get my heart racing and bring certain vials to the pensieve. These days I allow myself to stick my head under. These days I allow myself to remember. And (mostly) it’s ok…and so yesterday…

If it’s over let it go and when you wake up it will seem so yesterday…

This post is part of a semi regular “what I know about…” link up being hosted by Sarah Wayland at That Space in Between. Check it out.



22 comments on “what I know about…remembering”
  1. MIchelle says:

    whoa! too close to home! also, great piece – just got me thinking about why I remember what I remember…. xx

  2. It’s quite fascinating how we can all remember different things from the same episode. The timing of this post was very timely (?) – I’m doing my own unofficial version of NaNoWrimo by making, no, encouraging, myself to write at least 20,000 words to add to my memoir. Today I was writing about camping trips we took when I was a teenager and a new mum, the incidents I remember are quite random – strange 😉

  3. Your brain fascinates me Jo! Life, memories and remembering are like Babushka dolls. I think sometimes that when you dig and dig you eventually get to the end only to rebuild them and start again.
    Song lyrics are odd little place setters, you can almost smell and feel the location you were when an old song comes on…I try to have lots of music around the house so that when my kids are adults they hear something, stop and are reminded of where we are now.
    (excluding gangnam style…never that)

    1. jo says:

      never ever gangnam- but absolutely everything else! It’s funny Sarah, being as Piscean as I am sometimes the memory is wound up in the fantasy & vice versa with no boundaries in between.

  4. Your post was very profound and certainly has me thinking Jo. I totally agree on the count of learnings from Harry Potter. I’m always evoking a Patronus! Yes, stuff. I am incredibly sentimental about my stuff. I really only keep what has a happy memory or experience. Sometimes I hang on to things and know that when the time is right I can release myself of it.

    1. jo says:

      Oh, I so need a Petronus. I think mine would be a dolphin…

  5. That end quote about the past – wow. You’re a powerful writer.

    1. jo says:

      Thankyou Carly…

    2. jo says:

      I actually forgot to add where that quote was from…are you ready? A Hilary Duff song! Yep, it’s really that lame.

  6. Debbish says:

    I’m like that with some University memories. I don’t know why but I hate remembering back on my Uni days (and life at a residential college on campus). I try to push it all from my mind – hate even being near the University etc. But, like you said, it means I’ve lost the good with the bad memories….

    Lovely post. Thought provoking.

    1. jo says:

      Thanks Deb…

  7. Wow. That was one very cool and interesting read. You make memories yet keep them in different places. I cannot begin to understand the HP references as I didnt get past the first movie but what I do understand is MUSIC. How much of my life I recall with a particular song, who I was with, and what I was wearing…you name it. From me, the child of the 50s and the teen of the 60s . Denyse

  8. I can relate to so much in this post. I remember the strangest things. We moved a lot when I was growing up, yet I can remember every house we lived in, in every minute detail. I can remember TV jingles from growing up and lyrics to songs, so many songs. Yet only snippets of memories that others have. I think I saw the world differently growing up.

  9. Ah! I want to comment and be succinct but I just know I will ramble (because that’s what my thoughts are doing right now after reading your post). A good blog post will do that to a girl! Thanks for unlocking a few bolted doors….

    1. jo says:

      You’re welcome. Thanks for dropping by.

  10. Cindi says:

    Wow. I just had an “aHa!” moment reading your line “I have this theory that stuff you hang onto holds with it memories of who you used to be rather than who you are now.” I’ve lost so much “stuff” in the last two years and all I have left are storage tubs of things from the me I used to be. Lately, I’ve been praying and asking for my old life back, and maybe I should instead be accepting my “now” and being open to what doors will open… thank you!

    1. jo says:

      glad to be of help :). Thanks for dropping by.

  11. Jayne says:

    That was amazing. I could relate to so much of it. Music is the key for me too.

  12. Jodi Gibson says:

    I’m blown away. I could have written this almost word for word. (Except maybe the Aunt’s belongings!) These are all the things I remember, the songs and jingles, houses and floor plans (we moved a lot too) and the rest is locked away somewhere I don’t feel like going. All of this made me who I am today. I don’t keep physical things just music of the days, photo’s and the writing in my head. Amazing.
    (Dropping by from The Fibro)

    1. jo says:

      Thanks for dropping by Jodi- it’s strange what stays in our head & what doesn’t…. Hope the words are flowing for you…

  13. Allison Tait says:

    I remember the lyrics too, and not much else – seems we are similar. Thanks for Rewinding.

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