Last weekend I found myself in a place that I used to call home. (Or maybe not home exactly, as I never completely found my place in that place, but the address where bills were sent, my car was parked, and art was made.)
It was weird recognizing the place and not knowing it simultaneously. I can’t explain it better except to say I drove like a tourist on roads I used to know, slowing at intersections to gaze down the street a bit:
Wait, is this one? Or does that just loop around…there’s the Starbucks…was that grocery store here four years ago? Oh Newk’s!
At some point I realized that the “back way” to the coffee shop was also the “back way” to an apartment (other than my own) where I used to spend most of my time. I remember having the route down to 14 or 16 minutes—something specific like that—depending on the time of day. I know there was a gate that I had the code to or that I had to call to be let in, and I remember that the way out of the neighborhood always took less time than the way in. (I’m sure there’s a poem or an adage in that fact alone, but I’m not that kind of writer.)
In any case, on the way to the coffee shop (because I’m always on the way to a coffee shop much like the way we’re all dying), I thought about this—his—apartment. I thought about the way I knew it had to be on the south side of the city, because I knew part of the route was this road, going south…but I could not, for the life of me, remember where this apartment was. Not the street name. Not the neighborhood. No landmarks. Nothing.
What you need to understand is that this is weird for me. I pride myself (maybe mistakenly so) on my memory. I’m a non-fiction writer. I memorize roads and shortcuts and quirky facts about scenes from my past without much trying. And yet, this was completely foreign. It felt like a movie I’d watched a long time ago, maybe as a kid, and there were scenes mixed with dreams mixed with memory, and I wasn’t sure anymore what could be considered real.
It made me laugh. Like really laugh. Joyously laughing in my borrowed-for-the-weekend fancy car. I found my way to the coffee shop pretty easily (because there’s priority even in memory), ordered a Louisiana breakfast I knew my stomach would later regret, and sat down with a French press to review the final edits on my new book, Notes from My Phone*.
And here’s why all this matters—and why I felt such joy. The first part of my book navigates a break up that was so crushing (mostly to my pride), because it was not part of the plan. The girl on those pages couldn’t picture her life without the guy from that apartment, and now this woman can’t even remember how to get to the apartment, much less (and I mean this kindly) the guy.
That’s not a metaphor y’all. I actually don’t remember the way. And that’s a good feeling.
I didn’t intend to forget; I just stopped trying to remember. Life is moving forward—never in the way I plan or anticipate, because of course it’s not—but it’s always moving forward. Either I’m with that or I’m not, and today—at least today!—I am so so with that.
Lead on, God. I’m with you, taking notes.
Notes from My Phone* a self portrait in her twenties
will be released in late Fall 2016 via Mason Jar Press
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