Distorted Memory

Memories are twisted. They’re worse than play-doh. Let’s just say I had a friend, and we spent many years together, and many of my memories are tangled up with this person, and I would only assume, I would have to assume, that her memories would be the same. Or similar. Or at least have mention of me, somewhere.

I unwittingly discovered this person’s blog, on which was her life story. In it, I did not exist. The years I spent at her house were described as solitary years in which this person was a “loner” as if she had no friends at all. All those years, constantly sleeping over this person’s house so as which to escape my own, being together during school, and after-school, and on weekends, and during holidays and beach vacations and parties and every possible element of my childhood I can think of: gone. Did her memory erase me? Am I that easily forgettable? Or was I not what she needed at the time, and I had no idea until now?

As a fiction writer, I often rewrite my memories. Literally. If a story of mine is somehow loosely related to my real life it has a way of becoming more real than the supposed real life, the memories competing with what is on the page, and the page always wins. So I can’t complain that I’ve been written out of hers. It just makes me question myself and what happened. My memory is getting flimsy.

This must be why people get tattoos. (Besides the fact that they look sexy. Yeah, e, and by that I mean you.)


  1. Um, maybe she’s writing a fictional blog?

    That’s sad though. And weird. Do you feel like you can confront her about it? I hate to say (this is the writer in me!) that this would make a really intense story. What you just wrote. Maybe she’s really really attached to her sad history that she can’t admit it was really not as bad as she wants to remember. Or maybe she is a drama queen is who is knowingly lying because she wants sympathy. Do you think she has any idea you may have read her blog? Probably not.

    Have you read Jane Smiley’s story… agh, i can’t remember the name of it, but it’s in the collection along with The Age of Grief. It’s a woman’s name, and it’s basically about a woman who has this friendship and it’s completely different from the other person’s POV.
    Anyway, you’re a writer too… I think this is great story material.

    But i know it’s painful, and I’m sorry. I just can’t help thinking of the myriad “What if”s to explain how this happened.

  2. I find the topic of memories and perceptions very interesting. I’ve been thinking about a time in the past when I behaved badly towards a girl in my class at school. I want to write a blog post about it, but I’m realising my memories about what happened are so selective and that I have blanked out whether or not I did the bad thing I planned to do. I wonder what her perceptions of what happened are? Ooh, I would love to read her blog! (I doubt she has one, though).

    I would agree with Susan that this girl may have fictionalised her story to get sympathy or to make it more artistic and interesting. I also agree that this would be great subject matter for a novel or short story. Life, eh? The yuck experiences are often the ones that make the most interesting reading!

  3. Susan and Helen, you both have really good points. She could have fictionalized parts of her life in that post. Honestly, enough was true for me to realize it’s not fiction, it was more of a confession… but, well, I couldn’t help but notice my complete and total absence. We’ve lost touch over the years, even after I’ve made a little effort, so I guess it’s not that strange for her to think me not worthy of a mention. Now that I think about it, she never did return my emails either.

    *sigh* Now I feel dumb.

    She probably doesn’t know I read it — unless she finds this, and then I suppose we’re even.

    I haven’t read Jane Smiley’s story… The mention of me taking this and writing about it, it most definitely gets me going. I might just do that. So thanks for the push!

    Helen, I do hope you post about what you mentioned. It sounds intense.

  4. When I was about 15 I ran into Lauren, my best best best friend from fourth and fifth grade. I was so happy to see her. She said, “I’m sorry, I can’t remember your name.” Did she forget me, or just my name? I’ve always wondered.

  5. I often wonder about some of the people I grew up with and if they remember me, but in any case, I second Helen’s comment. And you shouldn’t feel dumb about your efforts to get in contact with her–she made a choice and now she’s missing out!

  6. my guess is that you didn’t fit into the memories she felt she Should have. Which is totally sad. It’s kinda crazy/funny/coom when The Joker (via Alan Moore) says something about The Past being multiple choice. When someone real does it, it’s mostly totally sad. jesus, now I feel like I need to look up Everyone I’ve ever known and make sure they know I remember them….

  7. I’ve been thinking about what you said. I have a friend and I spent almost every weekend at her house, went on holiday with her family and generally became a fourth child there. If I discovered that for some reason she had erased me I would be very hurt and puzzled. However, I would agree with Helen and Susan – it sounds like she’s “pimping up” her life-story for some reason, either to make it more interesting or it’s an exercise in fiction. I also agree that the whole area of memories and how different people remember the same thing differently is a great opportunity for writing.

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