possessing photographs

My sisters like to accuse me of inventing memories that never happened in the first place. Older sister says this because the memories are so obscure, and seem to have no place in the order of other memories; like the time the entire family sat down to a pot roast dinner, I put ketchup on my own roast, and turned my eyes toward the blazing television in the living room, which was proudly displaying an episode of Doctor Who. A random memory. I have no idea how old I was — 5 or 6? Because it seems to be senseless, random, and obscure, it has been assumed to have been fabricated.

The other night I read an article in Conduit about mental imagery. According to this essay, from the moment we first see, or experience an image, the image becomes fuzzy and immediately starts to be forgotten. We, as humans, have complex abilities to perform a series of difficult mental and physical tasks; we can send men up on the moon, clone sheep, but yet, we can’t remember our own phone numbers or our family members birthdates–or, even simpler, the color of someone’s eyes or whether they write with their left or their right hand. When someone is experienced, it’s like they dissolve into a polaroid picture developing backwards. It’s clear, then less clear, then suddenly–it fades. This is where the imagination kicks in and we invent things.

I remember when I met up with a sort-of old boyfriend a few years ago. We hadn’t seen each other in a while. During our meeting, he looked at me strangely, and said: “I clearly remember you having beautiful blue eyes. Now I see you don’t have blue eyes at all.” He’d forgotten all about me and started on inventing some imaginary me that never existed in the first place. Sometimes I forget the things that have happened in my life, and when I get an inkling that they actually happened, it seems bizarre, unnatural, like I am watching someone else’s home movies or looking at another life’s photo album. The faces seem familiar and distant at the same time. It seems like my life moves in big chunks of puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together; like a series of photographs that have started to fade and have been discarded. Once they disappear, a new series begins. Right now: I can remember everything clearly, with exact detail. I haven’t begun to invent anything new.