The problem with memories is that they only work in the now, and rarely how you need them to.
While visiting New Orleans last month I spent my first night in town searching for details that in the French Quarter that I could add to my novel. The evening was dense with slurred voices and crawling music that lives only in this one place on the planet. I was surprised to discover that the block where I have placed the antique store does not have any three story buildings. So I can either move everything around or lie about the surroundings to my readers.
I also passed by the first and last place I lived at in the city.
The former was uneven and leaning over as though it were wracked in wooden pain, but the balcony still smiled towards the skyline and I could see myself sitting there enjoying the good fortune of my life. I have no doubt that the inside stairs where I once sat crying after being beaten by my first lover still creaked loudly when you walked on them. But I’m not going to linger on all of that. This was my first and like anyone I will always look fondly on how it took my innocence away and put me on the road to being the man I am today.
An empty field is the only thing left of the final place I occupied. Standing there I understood that I was less attached to it than I had thought. It was a wonderful spot, perched on a peninsula between the Rigolets and Lake Ponchatrain. I would sit under the palms to watch seagulls and brown pelicans overhead. It was washed away by Katrina, into the now oily waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Being there was my first step in leaving the city and moving towards making the dreams I had always just talked about, a reality.
I retrieved very little from that property. A few photos and some small things, chipped and cracked. I hold on to them like we all do. In everyone’s house there is a treasured memento that has been painstakingly repaired after breaking, though it rarely regains its former place of prominence.
That’s how I view my life. It’s been wonderful, even the shattered parts mean something to me.
I’ve recently woken up from a very long sleep. Things that were once important are now just stories to ponder and share. None of them are filled with regret and I acknowledge that any lesson learned is a treasure for my soul.
This morning I went jogging and thought that people are like ground moss, clinging onto any safe rock while we struggle to grow.
I’ve been lucky enough to lose everything several times in my life and because of that I will defend a person’s right to destroy themselves to the bitter end. It’s how you make way for something completely new.
Otherwise you’re just building over old things and end up hiding what’s there.