Thursday, November 18, 2010

whose memories?

are the memories i have mine, or do they belong to someone else?

i think about that a lot.

like yesterday i was driving through hollywood and i saw an apartment building that we considered moving into. i could remember the interior, and i could remember the balcony, and the sound of traffic, and the smell of new paint and new carpet, and several other details with which i won't bore you.

but as i thought about it, i couldn't remember if i'd really been to the place that was so clearly a part of my memory, or if it's a memory of something liz once told me.

and she's not here to confirm whether or not i was there with her.

but it doesn't really matter. the memories that belonged to her are now mine, and whether or not i actually experienced all of them, well, i see it as my duty to remember them as best i can.

it's part of my way of keeping her around for madeline.

then this:

a few minutes after passing that apartment building, i was stopped at a stoplight and found myself listening to (and for the first time ever really, really hearing) a few lines of a song called, "the country diary of a subway conductor" written by a guy named david berman for his band, the silver jews.

the lines?

"imagining places i was almost sure i'd never been & had taken to assuming were the memories of my grandfather somehow deposited in my mind. they were there and gone."

i hear things like this and think i should just quit writing because everything i think has been thought before, and in a much more eloquent way.

i don't even know if any of this makes sense to anyone but me.

but if you're confused by what i wrote, read what david berman wrote.

that's exactly what i'm trying to say.


  1. Don't quit writing! I feel exactly the same way and understand what you're saying. Every time I write something, I find the same sentiment on another blog, in a song, in a poem, etc. and it leaves me feeling like I don't have any original thoughts. However, I've chosen to reframe this into: we are all human and part of the human experience and that's why we have similar thoughts and experiences. We validate each other this way and create connection with one another, and ultimately are comforted in knowing we are not alone...

  2. your point here is interesting to me because i often think about experiences i had while on my honeymoon in mexico with joe. i find it quite odd to think that we ever went since he died right after and that i am the only one left with the memories. makes me feel like i went there alone. it sorta freaks me out.

    the thing you were saying about why you bother writing... you have such an eloquent way about saying the things you say. i have found a lot of comfort in your blog and the other resources you have inadvertently put me in contact with. (i would never have heard that music you referenced!!)

    looking forward to 2k4m!


  3. I think it's the variety of writing that is the true gift. Each person's thoughts boldly recorded on the page or in a song can link us to that greater sense of belonging...and help us feel less alone. Since my husband's death, I know that loneliness is one of the most frequent and crushing things that I feel. Your recall of memories will link me to some of my memories-memories that I don't have my person to share them with thank you for writing. Keep up the noble pursuit even when if feels like time to stop.

  4. I've done that more times that I can count. Yesterday I had D. at the doctor and was asked if he'd ever been out of the Country. I answered yes, that at 4 mos. he had been to Jamaica w/ his dad and I. While lots of others were with us, I am now the only one that holds the memories of that trip and it made me sad. Keep on writing, we all need it. Maddy included.

  5. Even if Liz was here to ask if it was you or just a memory of hers, she might not be able to answer for the same reason. Sometimes there is a bond so strong between two people and their lives are so intertwined that its not always clear where one persons memories and feelings start and where the other ends. Its true love and there is nothing more special. It sort of reminds me of the way you finish each others sentences. Its a deep connection that never matter what. She may be gone, but she is still in you.
    Never stop writing, it means too much to me.

  6. I hold memories of his for our daughter, but she doesn't want them. Maybe it's being almost nine now or the fact that she is closely bonded with my second husband, who is the only father she's ever known.

    We didn't spend enough time together for our memories to become symbiotic like that at any rate.

    But there is never just one way to express something. What will strike someone in a bull's eye kind of way will completely miss someone else. For every student there is a teacher. For every reader there is a writer.

  7. I love reading your posts. Please do not stop.

  8. Matt, I feel the same way you do- I am now the repository of my husbands's memories and stories for our children. It struck me early on that there are some memories no one else will know of except me, especially of things that happened when my daughters were too little to remember. Keep writing for those of us who do not need fancy words for the words to hit a chord. They have their purpose to- there is a realness to them that I do not find in the words of eloquent.

  9. Please don't stop. Your posts identify with others and that helps so much for us that are still going thru this difficult heartache, this journey we are left to take alone. Not feeling alone is so helpful, being able to identify and "get it". Memories are what I can hold on to, no one can take and I can keep in my heart and mind for as long as I can or want.