I don’t have a great memory. Sometimes my friends think I do because I post blogs based on memories. The truth is: all memories are fiction. Nobody can remember exactly what was because even what was, wasn’t really uniform when it was occurring. Everything that happens is subject to each individual’s personal perception of the events. Our interpretation affects our ability to recall and subsequently recount things objectively. It’s easy to edit and crop those memories both consciously and subconsciously. Some of us just do it more than others.
My most vivid memories tend to be the bad ones. I tend to cling to the details like they’re responsible for the pain. Like the fact that I broke up with my ex boyfriend Paul on a Sunday, at 10:52pm on the first day of February is somehow tied together with the anguish. With my memories of that night. The pain is forever.
But happiness is fleeting. For some reason, I have much more difficulty remembering the good moments. The details of fun-filled days slip away from me so quickly. I guess I’m too busy enjoying myself that I forget to keep track of what’s happening. Then the feelings don’t last.
One of the best days I’ve experienced in my adult life happened shortly after Paul’s brother Mark bought a newer, bigger boat than the one he’d owned the previous summer. This boat had an entire apartment in the downstairs portion of the boat. Mark, his wife Anette and their toddler daughter Frankie spent almost every weekend of the summer on the boat. One weekend, they invited me and Paul to join them.
The plan was that we’d go to some sort of party spot near an island that was only accessible by boat. I can’t tell you which island because I don’t remember its name. I can’t even locate it on a map. I’ve tried. All those memories are gone. Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention. Maybe I didn’t ask enough questions.
We road on the boat for some indefinite amount of time. Somewhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours, if I had to guess. All I remember is enjoying the ride. Sitting back. The sun’s strong rays penetrating my skin. The breeze from the speed of the boat blowing back my hair. A mist of water keeping me cool. A generous amount of alcohol running through my bloodstream. I felt euphoric.
We must have anchored the boat and taken in the scene. The water beneath us was a crystal blue that looked better suited for the Caribbean sea than a lake in central Ontario. We were surrounded by boats like our own. They were also anchored and filled with groups of people soaking in the sun, eating, drinking, listening to music. Some people were swimming, and others had set up chairs and towels on the shores of the sandy island. The glorious sun overhead coloured this entire picture with a hazy golden hue. It was like an aquatic summer festival. I felt light years away from my suburban life and my day job.
At some point, I ventured off the boat to use the public restroom on the island. I must have swam there. I must have been wearing a bathing suit. But I can’t remember which one. The whole idea of jumping off a boat and swimming to shore doesn’t sound like me at all. I must have persuaded Paul to come with me, but I don’t remember that part. Sometimes I wonder if the entire day was just a dream my subconscious concocted. Unfortunately, I’m not in the position to ask anyone about it anymore.
Before, or maybe it was after, using the lavatories I was approached by a small boy. Either a boy or a girl. A small child. He unclenched his chubby fist and triumphantly revealed a teeny tiny frog he had caught. It was so cool! I dropped to my knees to examine it, wanting to pet it. I can’t remember if I did before it hopped out of its captor’s hands and back into the water.
Somehow I ended up back on the boat, sitting next to Paul, our legs dangling in the water. I don’t know where it came from, I’m not sure of my reasoning, but my mouth spoke the words, “let’s smoke a cigarette!”
Maybe that was how I was trying to preserve that good feeling. I was living in the moment. And in the moment, I’d decided smoking a cigarette would feel really good. I’m sure Paul shot me a quizzical look after I said that. Neither of us were smokers. Anette was though, and Paul obliged, obtaining both a cigarette and a lighter.
Paul lit it up and took the first puff. I eagerly lifted my hands from below the water’s surface and took the cigarette from him. By the time it made it to my mouth it was soggy and limp. Oh, how we laughed.
I’m sure a bunch of other stuff happened too. Or maybe we just headed back to reality after that moment. Who knows. But it sure was a blast while it lasted. Silly, fun, exciting. The feelings, I remember quite clearly.
Sometimes days surprise us. Sometimes days are so good that you forget to pay attention to the details. You just live enthusiastically and impulsively. Little details become simply irrelevant in contrast to the joy of the day. You don’t have to have a good memory on those days.
Some of my favourite memories are the ones I can barely remember.