Memories crowd in my head and some of the time I cannot tell whether they are real or just my invention. Maybe there isn't much difference, maybe none at all. After all, it's just bits of my life and of no importance to anybody. Could be that we all make it up as we go along in life, pushing the hard and heavy bits far away into the part of our brain that forgets and embellishing the moments that make us shine or make us happy or make us proud or maybe just simply make us.
When I look back on what I remember of my life, it all appears to float and whirl without any beginning or order and I pick bits like flotsam and for a while, put them on my shelf to look at and it feels inevitable but also totally random. This remembering.
Some memories have been hidden for a very long time, too long for me to swear by them and to declare that yes, this is how it was.
For example. Childhood. A messy time, memories are tricky.
This is how it works: I compare notes, with my siblings, separately and on the rare occasions when we are together. Mostly, we cannot agree. When I mention something my mother did or said that was hard and painful, my brother's posture becomes rigid, he tries to not avert his face and to keep a bland expression, whereas my sister while agreeing on the basics will respond with examples of something my mother did that was good and generous, scolding me for not balancing out the memories, for always overemphasizing, for being ungrateful and so on. It's her show, she's the oldest. And then my posture becomes rigid and I try to not avert my face, keeping a bland expression.
Eventually, we will begin to argue. We always end up arguing. If there is anything we really figured out during our childhood, it's how to get the day rolling arguing with each other. We can argue with our eyes closed, our brains on automatic. At a push, we know how to argue until the cows come home. My brother, the whiny baby that he is, will eventually withdraw, shaking his head, into the safe cocoon of his own, large family, whereupon my sister will feel compelled to continue in her search for someone to blame and I will play that game of shrinking deeper and deeper into the younger sister position where my opinions don't count anyway, working hard on staying arrogantly aloof.
Variations of this. Since 1962 or thereabout.
But for the time being, she has stopped talking to me. Suddenly, we are on uncharted territory here.
I feel relieved and cheated in equal measure. After all, it was me who has been scheming to stop communicating eventually, not quite now but sometime in the future. Naturally, I am incensed. So as always, she gets her way. Or something like that. I want to bang a door, stamp my childish feet.
Is she, I wonder, waiting for me to write the first email, surely not expecting a phone call, me asking, was it something I said? When I know bloody well it has always been something I said or didn't say or do.
Maybe all she needs is time, R tells me. Pah, I snort. She is just running her show.
Well then, he replies, let her. Keep your distance and wait.
What does he know, I grumble behind his back, he comes from a happy Irish family. The kind where they fall over laughing everytime some cousin remembers the day uncle Des almost swallowed his dentures.
Meanwhile, reading my grandmother's letters, I am reminded that I come from a long line of family feuds.
To be continued, maybe. Uncharted territory, as mentioned above.