Musings on How Life is Beautiful...But Only on the Inside
Growing up, I always told myself my first memory was of the womb. A warm, muddled red light and muffled voices. I told myself that enough times to actually believe it, even now. Well, I believe it and I don't believe it. How could I believe something that absurd? A warm red light? It's not like my mother's belly was made of vascularized tissue paper. But that's still where things start for me, an uneasy origin story, that then chugs out a haphazard line of random images and phrases with no definite roadmap. Snuggling in a sleeping bag. Hearing my teacher's Southern drawl echo "If you cuss again, I'm gonna wash your mouth out with soap" across the playground (don't worry, she wasn't talking to me--although if she heard how I speak now, she'd probably feel the need to use buckets of PineSol). A ragtag bunch of Cheetoh puffs in a plastic box. Someone's hand in mine.
And then I'm plopped into my accelerated growth, my development as a young adult into a full adult, into someone who, like Scout Finch, finally thinks they've got enough stored up to look back on. And when I do look back, this tangled mass of colors and sounds is all that I seem to have brought with me. We always start our stories with "I remember one time when I was ten--ten or eleven, something like that." When does that happen? When do we lose the certainty of time, the immediacy of the moment? Can you even imagine how, one day, the entirety of your present experience--its urgency, its enormity, its weight--would just be garbled nonsense, background noise to a few shimmering moments that will ultimately make the cut? Even two years ago seem distant. I can't revisit those days the way I can revisit yesterday. Well, strike that. I can't revisit all of those days the way I can revisit yesterday. The most frustrating part is that I can't always dictate which days I can keep pristine, and which would just fade under the lights in the museum's glass cases. Time doesn't operate by a bartering system; it rations itself, our will be damned. So maybe it's not that we're perceiving Time fallibly--maybe we're just perceiving what Time is willing to show us.