Memories are stories.

It can be hard to admit. In fact, a lot of people grip so tightly to their memories as “real” that they will fight until vindicated. Who can blame them?

Memories are treasures.

They’re the stuff of song and book.

They fill our cupboard drawers, decorate our shelves and add color to our walls.

They frame personal identities, and give root to religious and national experiences.

We struggle to articulate them and pay to retrieve them.

They justify what we do, feel, think, and believe.

The mere suggestion that we’ve lost them, or that we’re about to lose them, can be our greatest fear.

They’re our stories.

As it is, that’s neither good nor bad, unless one story is imposed upon another.

“He told me to take a lover.”

I first heard that phrase when I was 16 years old, and I heard it again last night and two nights before that. Over and over again — the story that changed the trajectory of my days. The story that may or may not have ever happened, except in the memory of one woman who left her husband to take a lover.

It has grown more fervent over 35 years. There’s guilt. It justifies.

My son has a name for such things. He calls it “shaking the box”.

The box holds memories of events best laid to rest. We experience them, process them, come to terms with them, learn from them, and find peace with them. Then it’s time to move on.

Until someone decides to shake the box.

Some things are better kept at rest, aren’t they?

Yet, so much of who we are today is based on what we’ve lived. Our memories are the bones and sinew of our lives; the stuff from which we cannot be extricated without losing our shape.

What or who would we be without them?

Important yet slippery. Unstable, with as many versions as there are voices to tell them.

Memories + story = Mem(st)ories.

If I share mine, do I damage or deny the experience of another? Have I committed a transgression just by making that phrase public?

I hesitate to hit publish and yet, at the same time, it’s my story and I’m not sure I should be silenced by another any longer.

“He told me to take a lover.” There it is, again. I’ve done it. And so the act of one version overwriting another can begin.

Writer, teacher, photographer & perpetual thinker. Here to share what I find while wandering around in the messy middle of life.

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