Memory: the most unreliable durable refrigerator

My friend Sam sent this story to me today, about how experiences are worthwhile investments because they can be considered “durable consumer goods”.  Like refrigerators and stoves. Things that last more than three years.

It got me thinking about the nature of memory.

Earlier this month I visited D.C., stayed with my old friends Doran and Tina and their adorable kids, and helped out at my old nonprofit job. These were such lovely things, and if I were better at being a blogger of everyday fun, I’d list out the whole itinerary and post photos from Instagram or something. Onward.

Point being. I left my job and life there in something of a rush; packed it all into a borrowed sedan and headed west. I was reeling from a college-boyfriend-heartbreak (everybody now: “awwww….”) and just had to get the hell out of dodge. I’d never take that decision back. Chicago has been everything.

But searching through old writings today (a couple of weeks after my visit)  I found this passage. It’s so strange. I recall that entire city laced with woe-is-me and the alienation of being too young for one’s own high heels, but I must’ve been having something of a good time:

…a beautiful dinner with doran, him hobbling around on his broken leg, where we conspiratorially made fun of the restaurant’s pretensions and drank the best wine, then stopped afterward for ice cream. it seemed like he really understood. or wandering around the sun-soaked botanic gardens with josh, like children fascinated by mysterious misters and textured foliage. or making spaghetti with sarah, meatballs falling as casualties to the kitchen floor. or the feeling of having a going-away dinner that felt crowded, hot, burbling like the spaghetti sauce with love, love, love. or crying at the supply cabinet in my office as i put back the paperclips i never used, and the staples, and feeling a co-worker put his hand in the small of my back as an it-will-be-ok. or lunch with a friend from a museum we often worked with, where she gave me mementos from her colleagues of the museum’s art. or the presents i got from the teachers — pencil holder, sweatshirt, good-luck card, wild flowers that stuck out in all directions and reminded me of the teacher herself, the one from south africa who told the most articulate narratives of growing up. cramming things in — dinner parties, improv shows, nights out out out and hard-working days, each one feeling like a marathon, only to see another marathon right around the corner. and then it was done.

— Sept. 2004

2 thoughts on “Memory: the most unreliable durable refrigerator

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