Sometimes, we don’t realize we are in the middle of a memory until the moment has passed us by and we step back from the situation. Days later, we begin to think about the moment, analyzing the details of each conversation; what the words meant, how the actions were or were not connected to the words. The facial features; the way they changed over the course of the conversation and how we could see through them but couldn’t get the explanation you were looking for. We etch that moment in our brains, trying to hold on to something.
It’s not always this way. Sometimes, we know we are making memories in the exact moment they are happening. We find ourselves stopping and saying, sometimes out loud, “I’ll never forget this moment…” and we don’t. We commit it to memory; the sights, sounds, and smells. These are the easy ones because we set out to make these memories. It’s like our 10-year old family trip to Disney; we know it’s a moment our parents spent a gazillion dollars on and that while we may have felt like we were in the throngs of forced family fun, we still came out with some solid memories and some epic family photos with outfits that still have us asking “why would we be dressed that way…” It’s easy to see why we have and hold on to memories like that. Or memories of our grandparents, how we used to spend holidays and weekends and random Tuesday’s playing cards and watching the Golden Girls. These moments have shaped our lives. They are the kind of thing where we can close our eyes, smell a smell or hear a song or watch an episode and be transported back.
But the memories we didn’t know we were making; the ones that we can’t possibly know are even going to become memories? Those are the ones that kill us most. They are the ones that disguise themselves as a quick trip to the store for something as trivial as deodorant or Jell-O and wind up being engrained on our brains for years to come. They are the ones where a song can stop us dead in our tracks, smiling or crying (or maybe both) because they pull us so close to the moment that it hurts. They are buried in smells we forgot existed that blaze by us, turning our heads as we begin to silently reminisce about the moment tied to that one scent, feeling like we’ve been punched in the stomach by life.
Turns out that even the best memories just make us miss the things they were tied to; the way things were, the things that could have been but couldn’t then. We ache for these moments to be so much more than memories; to be pieces we could relive, if even just for a moment. And maybe we would change the outcome and maybe the outcome would change us (more than it has already). And maybe nothing would change but we’d hold on to the person for just a second longer, a little harder, fight a little more for that goodbye kiss… then maybe, we wouldn’t be so worried that that moment would be our last memory…