by Sara Aranda
I don’t know if today is Saturday, so I place myself onto the timeline and remember the emails I sent yesterday, that yesterday was Friday. But it could be, amazingly, Sunday by now. This isn’t about how fortunate I am to have forgotten.
Sometimes my memory refuses me; if it had a sound it may be the uphill steps over fallen pine cones, how they rattle, how they are airy and wooden when they bounce; yet suddenly I am overtaken by bright blue flowers, just in time for this summer day, beautifully overcast and lost
to place and purply whorls. Sometimes it is steam over the stove, watery eyes, days passing like the hairs that slip from my head, tendrils of fate, always happening. They leave evidence to where I’ve been, who I’ve touched, what clothes I’ve worn; yet I’ll never know when or how, exactly. All I can do is close my eyes
and fail to feel my pulse. Sigh submission. Maybe this really is all a dream. Someone else’s memento. The piano is already a funereal tune passing through my fingers as I braid all these moments, the days, the sounds of foxtail grass against my legs, into memory—but I am as imperfect as my brain and there will be those strands that refuse to die by neural synchrony. It is anarchy against myself. And when I am old
I’m sure those strands won’t matter anymore. Nothing will. Except, maybe, for the feeling of it all. Will death blur like these moments where I cannot remember something I feel I should, or will it burn into me as wrinkles and sting like stinging nettles? How proud I foresee myself to be
to make it that far. I could claim this symptom as the failure of being present. A fluid hangover of boredom, rooted in the notion that I must sit to write, to produce, to work for myself. The computer. The internet. I understand my attention span is what I make it. But I find myself forcing the pen to paper, to read, forcing steps up the hill, reminding myself to not just watch my feet but look around—
what do you actually see? I see rolling hills, evergreens, summer grass—hazy as the eyes I view them with. Distracted. Habitual futurism. What if being present doesn’t exist anymore
for me? I am narrow mind, seeing the ridgeline instead of the mountain, the pine trees instead of the forest, the painterly grass instead of the undulant meadow. I am tedious. Small. Never remembering what’s outside of myself and my memory. Singular. A story told once and never repeated. Human
is akin to a paradox. We have boundary—our skin, our blood, our homes. We have definition—things, places, a sense of self and maybe purpose, too. We are surely as tangible as all that we define, except for our thoughts, maybe even the energy we exude when we sweat, when we are elated after sex, when we are brooding from war. We are both tangible and intangible. People see us but don’t know us. We are a person but we are also phantoms, dreamers locked inside the head, often elsewhere, enchanted by what’s behind the eyes. The closer we look the harder things are to see. And when we remember something beautiful
it eludes us, in degradation, the failure inherent in memory. We become frustrated because we realize we are not masters of even ourselves. We are only visitors, as transient as the braid; we cannot control the depth to which our mind remembers things. Thus I don’t care
that it really is Saturday. I care about the conversation I have with myself when I forget. How I feel when I become self-aware. I must admit that forgetting makes me sad. Sure it is proof that life is spilling past me, that I am trailing my fingers through the water but refuse to fall in. Yet, the caution, the hesitation, is the syncopation in my chest. It’s comfortable
to forget. The door to our home is fickle. If you don’t press in enough the wind can open it. Sometimes I find myself typing away for hours when suddenly there’s a rush of sound. A clicking, like the start of a record player. Birds, crickets, beetles, a warbling breeze, my husband tinkering around the farm, stretching hail netting over plastic hoops. I often indulge in the foothills of isolation, but I like when happenstance breaks the silence. I welcome the wind when it stops by, because it reminds me that being present doesn’t have to mean stillness. And forgetting doesn’t have to mean missing out.
Write anything, memory, but my humanness is more than the airy pine cone. Even living as best as I can means days of nostalgia, of tapping and shaking my head in disappointment. It’s all a part of the experience, you see, as my husband would say. Even if you don’t remember it down the road.