Sunday, January 23, 2011

Memory, "the hardest button to button"

Looking backward. Over time. I feel like an observer of my years. Along for the ride for the calendar of events. Yet I can remember actively making decisions, participating, the will involved.

Memory. Maybe that's Jack White's hardest button to button (a song presently stuck in my head from Friday's commute). It's frequently mine. And it's the hardest button that takes your attention.

My memory is fragments. Sometimes ordered, sometimes scattered. Sometimes like a puzzle. But when I put the puzzle together and it fits and I feel like I have it I?

Our girls amaze us with their memories--the odd details or seemingly random places or moments or experiences. And they are vivid, these memories. Things we had forgotten, but which come rushing back in waves of awareness when the girls remind us.

"Remember that time..?" for them could cue something from an hour ago, a month, two years ago, equally. And when they were younger, "yesterday" could mean any of those time frames.

John McPhee has a stellar collection of essays in a book called Pieces of the Frame. This concept of pieces, these fragments, moments, they also frame how my mind works for writing.

Trying to string fragments together, hang them on some sort of framework that I can assemble into a meaningful whole.

Sometimes if the fragments fall or fit together, if from a distance or up close they reflect something larger, it feels like freeing your fingers after buttoning the hardest button. To button.

* photo by Walker Evans, 1962.

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