Memory Collectors

When I got off the bus in Cleveland, it felt as is if my body and soul were reunited.

You never forget home and home never forgets you. 

It was time to go back to my childhood house and take everything that my husband and I wanted for our apartment in Brooklyn.  You see, after my mom died, we all abandoned ship. One by one, we left Cleveland and we didn't spend much time considering when or how we would return to deal with our memories. Our house, our past, sat on Cedarwood Road, full of things but privy of people. As time went on, the pool was covered up, the carpets were replaced by hardwood floors and a for sale sign was planted out on our front lawn.  

As we pulled up to the driveway, I had an impulse to pull the car up beside the mailbox to check the mail. That's what I did for 18 years, why would this day be different? Because what's lost is not always found - a hard concept for the heart to grasp.

When I walked into the house, I was no longer greeted by the scent of Persian rice.  The sound of my name being yelled from the opposite end of the hallway was replaced by complete silence and the walls, once covered with too many family photos, were bare. This house, our house, my house, could have been anyone's. And yet every corner, window and door had 1,000 memories attached to it. Even the freezer, where the frozen orange juice fell on my foot and my sister could not stop laughing, evoked emotions in me! I can still hear her giggles. These memories, as beautiful as they are, also cause me much pain. 

What would our lives be like without memories? Tortured by wanting to re-live the past and soak up each and every smell, smile and song again and again, it occurred to me that we spend our lives collecting memories until we turn into memory encyclopedias for younger generations to suckle and for our aging souls to find solace in. 

I spent hours reading old letters, admiring various awards and analyzing pictures. Should I keep this? Should I throw that a way? Should I digitize? Should I burn? Should I store? Should I email? What do we do with so many things? What do we do with relics from childhood? How much time should I spend wandering around the past?

We don't learn about these moments in school - we cannot prepare for them - they are the expereiences that define what it means to be alive: when life becomes a splatter painting full of color, chaos and creation. 

They are the moments when past, present and future collide. 

As I sat alone covered in trinkets, I thought about my sisters, my father, my cousins and all the people who had been a part of my memory book: chapters infancy, childhood and puberty. I decided that the process of sorting through memories would be easier if I did it with others who share them with me. Together, we could laugh or cry. Together we could throw something away or preserve it. Together we could let go and together we could move on.

I am taking another trip back home in August so that together we can file away memories and create new ones.

Until then, let's do our best to be present and make good memories with the ones we love.

a presto,

Ariela