I recently turned 40, and I find that I continue to be fascinated by time and its effects. Not in a mid-life crisis, Falling Down kind of way. Rather an introspective yet accepting way.
For example, it seems odd to me that there are things that happen to us when we are at an age that we can remember, yet they are gone from our memory. My first memory that I clearly remember is at age 4-it is of waking up, getting out of bed, looking out the window, and my dad was washing the car. There are thousands of other days in my lifetime, but many of them have been wiped from my consciousness, a la the device in Men in Black. I simply cannot remember them.
What makes it even stranger is that people that were with you on certain days can recall things that you do not remember at all. I tend to be the person in the group that says “Remember when (fill in the blank)”. It can make me come off a bit like Melissa Joan Hart’s character in Can’t Hardly Wait. But even I am stumped sometimes when someone brings up something. It is intriguing what sticks to our craniums and what does not.
Something else that is odd to me is that we spend so much time in certain spaces, rooms, houses, or buildings, and then we move on, but they remain. I’m particularly drawn to old houses my family lived in. I lived in one house until I was about 3, then another from 4-6, then another from 6-11, then another from 11-17, and then one last one from 17 until I moved out after college. My mom still lives in the same house we moved to when I was 17, but that still leaves 4 other houses I lived in when I was younger. Out of those 4, I vividly remember the ones I lived in from 6-17, and often drive past them, wondering how different they are inside. It’s weird to me-I slept there, woke up there, got ready for school there, shared meals with my family there, was bored there…I experienced the gamut of human emotions within those walls, but now someone else occupies that space. Perhaps they have lived there longer than I did. Yet it doesn’t change the fact that at one time it was my space. My backyard that I played in. My bedroom that I first discovered my love of music in. That my adolescent heart yearned and blossomed and broke and waited in.
I would love to just go in those houses one last time, to see what memories they conjure up. To marvel at how much smaller they seem (cause I know they would, just like how I was amazed at the desks and chairs at the elementary school I went to, when I visited my former teachers as a high school student). And to reminisce about the spaces I used to inhabit, and be thankful for leading me to the spaces which I live in now. Because I love the life that I have now. Still, I like the quote “Youth is wasted on the young”, which in some form or fashion is usually attributed to George Bernard Shaw. We don’t possess the insight yet as children to slow down and really think about what certain moments in our lives mean. Time is too slippery for our young minds to grasp. Then as adults we try to go back and make sense of it all. Perhaps that is what investigating memories and old spaces is about-trying to mesh what was with what we know now. Not wanting to go back there permanently, but enjoying a mental or physical visit every now and then. And even if time is still its old slippery self, I have more awareness now, and a greater appreciation of it. Of the now. And that’s something I hope I never let go.