I've started looking back through a bunch of notes, trying to pick something to write about in order to start working on this blog again, but at every turn I came across something that embarrassed me or made me sad, or nervous, until I came across this lovely card from my best friend, Kate*. She wrote it as part of a pack of letters she gave me before she headed off to college early, right before I started 11th grade. We were both devastated we'd be apart from one another, and her goodbye gift was sweet and thoughtful and generous. We'd been avid note-writers from the beginning, and the sudden void would have been so much worse without a set of notes I could delve into from time to time.
I talked to her about this card yesterday, and while we both agreed it was beautifully written - especially for a 16-year-old, I broke the news that part of her self-triggering memory is false. I've never owned a pair of corduroy overalls. Both fashion-blind Kashena and fashion-conscious Kashena concur on this.
It's a nitpicky thing to pick up on, especially considering the poetry of the card, but it reminded me of this Radiolab podcast on memory. They said that every time you access a memory you essentially re-create it, and in most cases, re-write it, dampening the truth every time until no one can be certain - especially if you remember it often - what is the true memory. From the beginning, before she had a chance to write it down, Kate had re-written the memory.
She still remembers the day of the New Years party, and after talking more about it we agreed I wasn't wearing overalls. I don't remember the day at all, so I'm willing to agree that all the other details are correct; for now, they remain static in her mind and on the page.
The time has come, however, for me to move away from this comfort - into the letters and notes that make me uncomfortable, that reveal what feels like too much. Things that are honest accounts of a darker adolescence, things that still follow me today. I have them on paper, sharp details contrasting my re-written, softer memories, and it's time to face them.
*name changed to keep as much anonymity as possible.