Monday, January 30, 2006

Snapshots, Part 2

Part 1 is here.

While I was in New York, Patrick and I kept revisiting a conversation about memories.

I am awful about remembering things. I can remember lists of mundane facts and schedules down to the smallest detail, but I can't remember the first time my husband told me he loved me. I can't even remember the first time we had sex.

All of my special memories are more like snapshots. They isolate one moment in time and freeze it forever in the album of my heart. (As sappy as that sounds, I was going to say brain instead of heart. But these really are memories more of the heart.)

I don't remember much at all from my wedding day. Oh, I can tell the stories like I remember the moments. But I'm really only repeating stories I've told before. I have a very clear memory of me smashing my head as my father enthusiastically helped me out of the limo before the ceremony. I can remember feeling so afraid that my voice would come out as a cracked peep when I started to say my vows. But I don't remember what we said.

I barely remember my childhood at all. But I have a clear mental picture of stealing my brother's sneaker from the back steps of my grandparents' house, and how my brother chased me around laughing trying to get it back. I wasn't even two-years-old yet according to my mother. Which makes sense, because I can remember laughing around the pacifier in my mouth.

The only thing I remember about my first date with my husband was having a hard time choosing what movie snack we wanted. We settled on Oreos.

I've won some important sports games in my life. My teams played basketball in the Boston Garden, won a state softball championship, and twirled at the World Chamionships. But my only clear memories are of arguing on the team buss, getting knocked out at home plate, and shaving my legs for the first time before a competition. Oh, and there was that one time we lost a couple of softball players at Disney World. There's no way I could ever forget that.

It's sad to me, but most of my kids' lives are a blur up until this point. I'm still at a point (maybe I'm not far away enough from it yet) when most of my clear memories are of bad times. And my son will probably resent it someday, but I can remember the moment my daughter was born with crystal clear clarity. All I remember of his birth is searing pain.

Even my recent memories are hit and miss.

I can recall recent things if I sit and think about them. For example, I can pretty much remember everything that happened when I went to New York in December of 2004 to meet a bunch of bloggers. But I know that over the years those memories will fade and wash out, like old newsprint. Who knows which ones will stick as snapshots? Who knows what moments in time I'll be remembering when I'm a grandmother?

I can guess.

I bet I'll remember the overwhelming feeling of excitement as I got off the plane. I'll probably remember the way Patrick looked when he caught my eye in the terminal. And I might remember saying goodbye to MAK and Patrick in front of my hotel.

Or maybe not.

Maybe all that I'll recall from that trip is the extremely frightening drive through Queens to get to the airport in the hired car.

It took me years to figure out that I'll only keep a few snapshots from these times. But now that I know, I try to hold on to some moments. To be savored later. To hold on to when times are hard. To hold close to my heart and never let go.

My daughter's face during her ballet recital.
My son's reactions on his first day of school.
My husband's speech when he was promoted.
My parent's wonder at my daughter's violin playing.
Patrick's reaction to the gift my husband gave him.
CB's sentiment the day she moved away.

Because just like the snapshots here, these moments in time...these are the moments I want to remember. Moments as beautiful as the people I love.

And if some of these snapshots are of bad times, or injuries, or fights, or yelling? That's okay too. Because as my life unfolds more and more I realize that these moments are beautiful too. Because they are real. As real as the people I love.

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