Reconstruction

August 1, 2005 § Leave a comment

I think it is safe to say that I have survived my hangover. James and I went for drinks at the Café last night, and were briefly joined by Ellen and Shaun, who had gone to see the fireworks and decided to stop in for a nightcap. If memory serves, and I’m not at all sure that it does, it was a fine evening.

At one point, James and I talked about how, when you look at childhood photographs, you can see the continuities in people. Almost instantly, I remembered a picture that was taken of me when I was five years old. I am sitting on the floor of my parents’ living room in a blue taffeta dress, with my feet splayed out in front of me in crisp, white socks. I am laughing—at my father, I imagine, who almost certainly took the picture—which the camera recorded as a beaming, toothy grin.

When I am truly happy, that is still the way I smile.

I realize that I have spent a lot of time, here and elsewhere, remembering. It is, I suppose, what you do in the wake of life-altering events: after death and disease and divorce, which came like a flood not that long ago. Each one is a break in the continuity of a life, and when they cluster together memory comes to a full stop. Reeling, you retreat into the present tense and find comfort there.

But then, inevitably, the question begins to nag: what was I before the break? In time, you want your continuities back, even the ugly ones, the painful ones, the ones that remind you of what you have lost. And then you start remembering, and you are almost surprised at the life you have lived. And then you ask yourself: how is it possible to forget so much?

Suddenly, you are reacquainted with all of your lovers and friends, the ones who are gone but are still part of your DNA, and, thank god, thank fucking god, the ones who remain and remember you too. The ones who know the whole story. Finally, there you are, all of you, with all your roots and tendrils, and everything you have ever felt. You are, incomprehensibly, yourself again.

The ground has shifted, I am certain of it.

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