When I think of writing and editing, my mind will often return to a place that doesn’t exist anymore. Through coincidence, I returned to this place a few months ago. Instead of seeing that alcove I see in my mind monthly, with the latest 90s computer technology showcasing digital publishing and reading books on computers, there was some other exhibit. I will never return to this place again and yet I will always return there.
Our minds are the museums of our experiences.
When we go to physical museums where we pay money and look at real objects, we can transport ourselves to worlds or ideas. This museum has changed significantly since I went there as a kid. My mind’s version of it is as clear to me as the English language’s list of letters. The curve of the letter “O” matches the curves around the open area looking down into the lower level. As I enter, to my right, overlooking grand windows, is the publishing alcove where my mind always starts whenever I think of Moby-Dick. Herman Melville, for me, will always be synonymous with the faux yellow walls, painted to resemble the color of faded paper, with a computer where I can learn the basics of newspaper publishing.
Did that place ever really exist?
When I last went to this place, the structural design of the room and the building don’t match with this memory, and yet the memory is more real than the actual place, at least in my brief wanderings through a sleep-deprived perception of reality. Was this really the same place? Probably not, and yet, it was. Do we hold onto things as a way to anchor ourselves to these memories? If we have memorabilia or souvenirs, does that prove we were actually there? I remember heckling with the hecklers as we waited in line to see Buckethead. All of the merchandise was underwhelming and overpriced. I have photos of the evening.
If I didn’t have the photos, did I even go?
As I look over all of the things in my apartment-mansion, on my downsizing walls, in my storage room, and the items I want to keep, I am starting to learn that these items don’t represent the events themselves. If I had “the computer” where I first learned about newspaper publishing, perhaps where I first, too, learned about Melville, what value would that hold? Would it prove that the place in my dreams, where I return to at least once a month, or in my memories actually existed? What if it didn’t? What if it was amalgamative of disparate half-memories? Is that really so bad? This essay can serve as a gift-shop memento of that scene’s alcove, or, a gaudy simulacrum of some memory not actually experienced. Objects are merely memory reminders.
After writing about this memory of mine, I won’t need to worry about remembering it. When I re-read this essay, I’ll remember it.
Maybe you’ll remember this memory of mine, too?
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: I think we hold onto too much because of the memories they inspire. The things I’ve donated the easiest have been in relation to thinks I bought for surface-level reasons like aesthetics or convenience. While reading a section of “a coincidence of jungles,” by tim rogers, where he and a friend go to an aquarium, my mind returned to this memory as though I were midway through a pleasant dream. This is the power of literature. Literature, writing, words, and their combined meanings can activate memories far more potent than any object. They say when you travel, you should write your thoughts. Word choice is a psychological study underpinning your mood. I’ve been drinking too many energy drinks, so my mind is scattered, but my remembrances of things are clear. So for me, this picture is as clear as the laptop in front of me. Drawing that just made it more abstract. That’s the thing with memories and reality. What we perceive is biased by physical faculties and mental understandings. This was real to me, but it is not real.|
|Related: Other Downsizing Zeal essays.|
|Picture: This one will be tricky to explain.
1. Overhead shot of the location in my memories. The #2 highlights the specific section while the yellow highlights a large, empty space.
2. The computer where I learned about publishing, perhaps.
3. The alcove, perhaps.
4. Overhead shot of the line outside the show with the hecklers.
|Written On: August 21st [5:58AM to 6:23AM in WordPress]|
|Last Edited: August 21st [No additional edits.]|