Like the greeting card aisle of your neighborhood pharmacy, there are sections of my mind which hold funny, cherished, sympathetic, sorrowful, goofy, erotic and celebratory messages. An old childhood friend of mine used to spend hours reading the greeting cards and laugh out loud at their simple jokes or be moved by their poetic sentiments. If I were to send a card I usually chose a blank card and penned my own sentiment.
As I have now managed to pull myself free of the rip tide of my darkest days of depression, I find myself standing chest deep in the river of my life; I feel the compression of waters’ density; I feel the strength of its current pushing me downstream, farther away from belongings cast-off as I cautiously waded past sand and past pebble; I sink in its sediment and often trip on submerged rocks and limbs and the occasional rubber tire. Frequently I stumble, painfully pushed off-balance and submerge hesitating, wondering if a simple inhalation of water wouldn’t be easier than struggling against the pressure, distance, current and weight of the cold, cold water; but then I regain footing, pushing off the stronghold of some happy, remote memory, determined to break the surface and gulp cool, mossy air.
Friends have begun to reach out, and over coffee or scones or some other crutch should our dialogue drift, they confide that some of their fondest memories include me. But in my despair I can’t quite access those thoughts; they’re hidden back there, like so much of my life, back there, as though they were last years fashion style, back there behind a rack of heavy, dark memories which hang like thick woolen overcoats inside my mind’s hall closet. I don’t recall the crisp, cold air of the Alps, or the hot sands and cold, sweaty Corona’s of Mexico, or the one hundred summer guests in our backyard party, or the winning run at the Brewer’s game, or long, intimate good-nights with Nick. It’s as though my little box of happy memories had been pushed to the back of the shelf at the top of the closet, or mistaken during the move, or picked-over and discarded.
What I do recall, acutely, is the pain; the dog-eared pages where bright yellow streaks highlight my disappointments and failed expectations and misery. Why my life has these particular bookmarks I am uncertain. Why I continue to read and dwell and mourn over these episodes I am unclear.
Today at last I live in hope. Hope that if enough friends can generate enough pleasant memories, then maybe if I hear them enough it will set the choke, twist the throttle and kick-start my mind to start remembering happy times; times in which I laughed and times in which I smiled and times that brought warmth to my heart. Until then I will sit patiently, scanning the vista of my mind to catch sight of the first swallow, signaling the memory migration has begun.