Friday, June 24, 2011

The Joy of Memory - My Happy Places

"I can't wait until this day is over so that I can remember it," I paraphrase my friend Joy who lives to collect the wonderful memories of her life.  At the time she expressed this sentiment I thought she was a little crazy.  Memory, for most of my life, has been a bitter enemy. For years I thought it was virtually impossible for me to retain the good, the joyful or peace-filled instances I knew I had experienced.  Part of my journey of healing from a painful past was to spend time facing, living through and combatting my ugly and hurtful memories.  I understand it was important to do so, but it often came at the expense of recollecting the many blissful episodes that have completed and formed the woman I am today.  So enough of facing the pain! Those files have been thoroughly sorted, tagged and stored.  They will never go away, but they do not have to sit on my desktop for easy access, rather I can archive them and store them in the vault. That doesn't mean that some evil little file clerk won't sneak a folder into my inbox every once in a while, and I'll deal with that as it comes, but to the best of my ability I have warehoused those flashbacks of pain.

For the past year or so I've begun to dig through the unsorted pile of pleasant memories.  It's a practice that is new to me so much of my recall is unfocused and blurred, but the more that I bring to mind and place the moments under the magnifying glass of sensation the sharper they become.  To that end, I'm going to start to file by category and maybe you'll keep me company as I do so...

My Happy Places

Everyone should have memories they can call their Happy Place.  A reminiscence you can rest in when the stress level goes off the chart.  I have several of them and for some reason they all involve water:
  • Winter, 1977  - Snowless yet below freezing temp., Lake Champion (where I was raised) was a smooth, glistening mirror surface of ice and I had the big pond all to myself.  I laced up my skates and donned warm mittens and for an hour or so I was Dorothy Hamill.  I glided forward and backwards, spread eagled, figured eighted, jumped and twirled and spun like a ballerina in a music box.  Ghostly crowds of leafless trees and granite rocks cheered me on from the banks, as I competed for the gold under a cloudless azure sky.  Even now as I write this, I feel a smile spread across my face and my breathing is deeper and slower and in floats the ease. AH, youth!

  • Summers, 1968 - 1973 - My visits to Vermont to stay with my Grammie Hudson.  I would spend hours playing in the brook next to her house.  I wrote a sestina poem about this time in my life, see My Poetry page and read the poem titled The Stream to know more about this season.

  • Summer, 2000 - Antalya, Turkey, vacationing with hubbie and Turkish friends Karem & Eser at Russian run resort on the Mediterranean.  While Doug, a.k.a Rocketman, hid on the sand under a beach umbrella and towel turban reading Paul Theroux's latest; I lathered up in water-proof sunblock and made my way into a sea as blue as the Dolmabahçe Palace peacocks.  The water made me feel skinny and beautiful as I laid on my back and free-floated atop the warm ripples. Sounds of angry Russian mothers yelling at their screeching children muffled into gentle whitenoise as my ears buoyed just under the current.  Me and marbled sky, bobbing in serenity, hours passed in seconds.  My body formed a mountain range of horizon between the blue above and blue below. I was the only being on the sea and this was the only place I was meant to be forever.  Until a splash from Karem and his broken English question, "Why Americans want Bush?"  We walk through life, floating is simply not a viable long term option, I'm afraid.

  • Summer, 2009, Outer Banks, North Carolina - Mini-family reunion everyone but brother-in-law Dan & husband Doug spent a week in a rented house near the ocean.  While the rest of the family made their way to sand & sea, I stayed back to have some alone time in the pool.  Thinking that because I was wearing Doug's Bermuda shorts I didn't need much sunblock, I fought my way onto the neon green pool lounger and fell into a blissful, peace-filled rest. Sun kissed knees, toes, arms and neck with cozy warmth as I wafted and gently coasted from one end to the other of the kidney-shaped pool.  Once again, a timelessness like that of Antalya wraps me in much needed calm. Hmmmmmmmmmmm! Pain seems to always make us aware we are not dreaming.  It was the worst sunburn I'd ever had.  I couldn't move my legs the next day!  Que sera, sera! It's still a happy place though.

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