There’s a chasm between wonder and imagination; of hidden width and depth. While we are all struck with wonder on occasion, few of us allow it to propel us into the realm of imagination.
When we revisit the past, for instance — back to our ‘old house’, in the city we grew up in but never went back to. We all feel coloured childhood memories welling up in the churn of chaotic emotions. There is the euphoria of having arrived, the happy initial confusion that comes from patchy memory, which alternatively triggers a flood of reminiscence or throws you into a vacuum. There are the things we’ve forgotten, but promised to remember — friends-for-life we lost touch with; unexpressed apologies; unsaid goodbyes. They tend to coalesce into a metallic taste that subtly colours our mood. The things we forget taunt us; they whisper to us that they’re far more important than the things we remember. Try as we might to bury them under new recollections and rekindled friendships, they gnaw at reunions and scoff at our fragile cheer.
Try as we might to become children again, the things we forget drag us back into the dull, oppressive present. ‘You are not worthy of childhood,’ they whisper. ‘You have forgotten. You do not belong here anymore,’ they chide. They hurt us, these forgotten memories, these loose ends from our childhood.
Then we give up. We sigh, we look down at our ageing body, and as only grown-ups can, we let the fatigue embrace us once more, allow the melancholy of twilight envelop the heart and glaze vision over. We shake hands, we smile wanly, get into our cars and drive back, slack-jawed and heavy-lidded.
We fall into that chasm.
The forgotten memories that taunt us are not really memories. They feed on memories. They are old; have been for ages. They wait for memories to come loose from their tenuous branches, as the currents of life tug at them. They do not feed on the templated, staid memories we recount often. They wait for the really succulent ones, the precious ones we wouldn’t want to sully by picking at them again and again. They wait for the colour that our first kiss makes behind closed eyelids, they wait for the smell of morning on the funnest Sunday ever, they wait for the bittersweet…no, I can’t tell you any more. They wait. And when the memory nearly comes loose, and holds on to the branch by a gossamer-thin strand of will, and when that strand tugs at our heartstrings in alarm, when we turn inward in panic and rush to reclaim that memory, the forgotten ones push us away and maul the memory. They rip it to shreds and devour it in greedy gulps, all the while saying, ‘it’s your fault.’