memory work

yesterday on the bus, a large and friendly man approached me, asking, ¨do you remember me?¨

after i replied, ¨no,¨ he began to tell me all sorts of facts about me. he knew where i had gone to graduate school, he knew my previous research topics, he knew my husband´s name, and yes, he had seen that long ago sztv documentary about the two of us.

¨don´t you remember me?¨ he asked again.

i tried, ¨i´m old and tired,¨ but he was not assuaged. so i assured him that i believed we had met.

¨you lived in chaoxi lou,¨ he said confidently.

over fifteen years ago, i lived in chaoxi lou for less than two months. and we met then?!

¨yes,¨ he continued happily. ¨i was a student and you were fatter and older looking. in fact, you´ve changed so much i wasn´t sure it was you. i wanted to hear your opinions about taiwan because you had lived there.¨

humbling, this unexpected encounter because suddenly i´m thinking about all those i have forgotten. how much of my life is being carried around in the hearts of others?

uncanny, this encounter because i´m also wondering how many of the defining moments of my life only live in me?

all those fragments of encounter that i have enshrined in my heart were enshrined as dialogues and exchanges, but maybe they´re only bits and pieces of my selective unconscious at work. maybe nothing occurred as i recall. indeed, i have no way of confirming the reliability of my memories and by extension, the person i claim to have been and therefore have become, today.

additional upside to this encounter? i won´t forget him again…

3 thoughts on “memory work

  1. ok, but let us first remember that he said that you looked older and fatter….it’s amazing on what I target into first…

  2. I was particularly taken by your phrase ” I’m also wondering how many of the defining moments of my life only live in me” Perhaps because I am alone now (widowed after many years of coupled sharing experience) and my solitude counts differently I wonder, do I have to formulate new understanding of everything based now on the fact that, as you say, the moments of my life only live in me. Well that;s I guess where art comes in. Its the window.

    • i suppose the hope is in the fact that moments of my life that i´ve already forgotten live elsewhere. and that is part of what my art grapples with and my scholarship couldn´t – that feeling of open possibility which is both exhilarating and sometimes frightening, but better shared, yes.

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