(Be ye warned: this post written while on copious amounts of cold medicine; rambling is inevitive…..(As timely proof, that word was supposed to be inevitable but for a solid 2 minutes I was certain that inevitive was a real word and that the red dot underline was just being mean and stupid.))
My travels in Rome became a topic of discussion at a recent Christmas celebration, and I was reminded of the ever-strange sensation of remembering things I didn’t know I’d forgotten. You know? It’s difficult to explain. I realize I live assuming all memories capable of being remembered are filed away at equal depths (although I know there’s nothing simple about the mind and the memory) and able to be pulled up for examination with equal effort. But sometimes a memory is recalled with such force that it seems to carry a message of warning: This one had slipped between the mental file cabinet and the wall, Kallie. It could’ve been lost for-ev-er; you should take better care of your memories. When these particular memories ‘happen’, it’s almost like I’m experiencing the event for the first time because it was so thoroughly forgotten. I started to think about the word ‘remember’ and tried to apply my minimal knowledge of etymology and greek roots, but beyond knowing that ‘re’ meant ‘once more’ or ‘again’, I couldn’t figure out the rest of the formula.
Ergo, a quick etymology lesson: remember from the Latin: rememorari “recall to mind” from re, meaning “again” and memorari “be mindful of,” and from memor “mindful”. So remembering is ‘calling to mind again’ and I like thinking of it that way, calling to mind. It speaks of a beckoning and a role call and it’s very verb-y, very active rather than passive. It would be lovely if remembering really was as simple as a role call: a precise list of things that should be present, nothing going missing unnoticed. I suppose that’s what diaries, journals and photo albums are for, in which case, I envy those disciplined enough to keep these memory attendance sheets. I’ve received scads of blank books as gifts over the years because friends and family assume that as a writer, I’d be a journaler, but I lack the discipline and it always seems counterproductive to write about what I did when I could be up and out doing more.
As it is, I have found that there is a special delight in forgetting and discovering others’ memories of the same event. Much (too much) of my time in Rome has to be remembered with the help of the friends I lived with there, and we, being different, kept different memories and different perspective of the same memory. We spread the load, community style, and when we gather (too rarely) there is always a calling and the familiar rush of a memory that, without a friend, would’ve been lost forever.