“Isn’t the past what people remember—who did what, how and why? And what people remember, isn’t that mostly what they’ve already chosen to believe?” –Amy Tan, “The Opposite of Fate”
It happens every once in awhile, usually in those moments when I’m least prepared.
I’ll be walking through a crowded store or driving in my car, and for a split second my eyes will catch a glimpse or my nose will snatch a scent and I’m instantly taken right back. It’s never the big moments that I return to, the ones we’re told are important, but rather the seemingly insignificant ones that should be easy to forget.
The random memory is triggered and my mind starts to rewind. Sometimes it leaves me happy and content with what I know, a smile on my lips as I recall a certain time. Other jolts of memory take on a darker hue, a time I tell myself most likely wasn’t quite that bad despite the surfacing emotion threatening to call my bluff.
With the scent fading fast, I try to remember.
Then I think to myself that I should write, that I should write about that seemingly insignificant thing that has stuck in my mind for one reason or another. But along with what I thought I saw that started this whole dance, that thought soon disappears.
The feeling I’ve lived a million different lives, a choose-your-own-adventure that replays the same scenes different ways each time they’re cued back up. Did that happen to me or the girl in the picture? Are the memories mine or what I was told, what I choose to believe?
I suppose it doesn’t matter if it’s exact or slightly fictionalized. It’s still—and always will be—my own story to tell.
Maybe I will.