We never know where we will find our history, where we will discover what has formed us, what we will find while farming tomatoes or doing yoga.
Who needs a history anyway? I find myself saying except I am writing a memoir, and when one writes a memoir, one need to go back and unleash the dragons and all the locked boxes.
As I write my own book I remember all my relationships, all my loves, all the deaths, all the things that happened.
All the stories.
I once loved someone who liked to sculpt vases as gifts. The pounding of the clay, the pulverizing; the creation and inevitable destruction of matter. The process of his sculpting was inevitable as any ritual. It was like watching women pound acorns with long rocks. Holes the size of nickels were created by the repetition, that repeated impact of stone against stone. It was meditative to watch. I can only imagine what actually doing it must have felt like.
Perhaps like creating your own life as you go. Perhaps it felt like that.
Or perhaps it just felt like sculpting.
As I write my tale, I think of him sculpting red clay into things of mythic beauty. Then letting it dry and crushing it into the earth. To be reshaped, over and over. This natural desire towards achievement he had. That we all have.
What turns into memory? I wonder as I wade through old places in my mind turned yellow with time and a certain forgetting.
Around 300 BC, the Olmec Civilaztion vanished for reasons that vanished with them. Poof! Gone from the Gulf Coast in what is now South Mexico.
We usually know why relationships or people vanish. Sometimes. Although with time that why often becomes a memory as well.
We invent what we have to.
With time, we might wonder Did I invent him? Did I invent her? Did I make up that ten year period of life in my imagination? Where is the proof that it existed? Somebody prove to me that I was a waitress for ten years, I demand it! Did I invent my father out of thin air? Did he really march us up the stairs to bed and yell “Hut 2-3-4, Hut 2-3-4”?
I wonder about the architecture of love and loss. The commodity of it and what remains after the concrete has been whittled away. The skeletons that get left after the meat is devoured. The blueprint is still there, but even the foundation has crumbled.
Everything must be rebuilt.
I am in awe of the catalysts that cause us to mutate and transform. Whether being trapped inside a volcano or having an old friend come to stay for a week on your sofa. Whether it’s having the rug yanked out from under you or losing your job of ten years or being dumped or your child dying before you. Whether it is selling your book or getting a promotion or deciding you actually don’t want to be an actor after all. We change. In ways big and small, measurable and unseeable to the naked eye, we evolve.
We change shapes and figures over and over again. We exchange one body for the next, one precious stone for a different one. One pleasure for another.
Jade used to be the most valuable stone in the world but over time its value diminished. Who can explain why the value of something increases or decreases? Or why we fall in love with someone, as quick as the pressing of your face into their shoulder blade as you ride on the back of their motorcycle, the wind slapping you with confirmation- Yes! This is love! Or a moment like the one when you watch them sleep and a surge of protectiveness knocks you awake. You want to make sure they take the next breath, and the next. You want to watch them forever.
Who can explain why, like jade, love’s value decreases, unaccountably? And then one day all that is left is a little piece of red clay. Who can explain that change?
Who can explain why that same person you wanted to watch sleep forever, that night, there on your couch, the rise and fall of their chest a steady reminder that you were safe, that there was some consistency in the world, why this same person makes you want to beat your fists against their chest and take back time?
Which parts of our lives have shaped us the most?
Which loves? Which fingers on our cheek, which heartbreaks? Which parts of our lives have caused us to lose little pieces of ourselves?
Where do we find our history when there is nowhere left to look but forward?
You find what you remember. What’s left inside of you as you lie your head down on the pillow at the end of the day and every vein in your body pulses in a language that says Keep Going, Don’t look back.
Don’t look back.