"SSSSSHHHH," I tell him, "You're ruining the moment. Be quiet." And he frowns and looks indignant and mumbles something about just doing his job. I don't remember when I became conscious of doing this: consciously trying to save a memory. Perhaps around the age of 9 or 10, the same time I began quietly murmuring "nut-pea" every once in awhile, creating a long spoken word poem of peanuts stretching back in time. They make me giggle, even though I can never remember the last time I said it, maybe a year ago, maybe a few months, maybe the last time I thought of it. It was because of some word game I can't remember the origin of, riddles that involved strange words that you repeated rapidly until you suddenly realized you were saying something else: leese-po, leese-po, leese-po, leese-po...ohwah tagoo siam hee!
The older I get, the harder it seems to be to etch specific memories in light on the wall of remembrance. There are so MANY of them now. They crowd each other out, and some lie forgotten and dusty at the back of my brainshelf, new ones pushing them further back and sometimes off the edge completely.
Lying on a discarded mattress, under a willow tree, watching the light through the leaves. I was skipping summer school with my sister, and it was our secret hideaway. I had been reading The Boxcar Children and decided that a willow tree would do just as well.So many moments; an overflowing chest of treasure. I write to remember, I re-read and re-live. Each fleeting one I fish up and hold carefully in my hand makes me smile and sigh and long. I trace my fingers along the etchings, drawing pictures in the air, pulling memories to life, and then the glow fades and I return my mind to the present, and my surroundings and the noises of my current life rush back in with a whoosh.
Carrying my music notebook out to a meadow off-campus, and sitting with my back against a beech tree. The sun shone down and lit up everything around me so that the whole world wore a halo. I sang every song I knew out loud.
Holding Pooka curled under my chin, her head beneath my hair, a vibrating fur-purr filling my ear, and the tiny pricking of little catclaw needles sewing a pattern of contentment on my shoulder.
Another singing snapshot: riding the base bus home from Messengers choir practice. My best friend Debbie and I sat in the back half of the bus, our backs to the windows and our legs stretched out in front of us and sang harmony, her soprano to my alto. We didn't care that there were other passengers on the bus; there was only our voices, only our song, and the rounded metal frame of the big windows pressing against our shoulderblades, and the darkness and the lights passing by.
Sitting in a parking garage, after a movie with Anders, whom I had met 2 days earlier, while he put a CD in the Porsche's** stereo system to introduce me to Swedish reggae, and thinking to myself, "This is it, I'm falling."
Stunned in front of a painting of the Madonna in the Prado art museum. I remember very clearly that my surroundings and the noise around me faded away, just like in the movies, as all my concentration went toward memorization.
My newborn baby's plump and rosy toes. The thumpity-roll of my 2-year-old son's bicycle helmet rocking back and forth on my back as I bike the path from Gårdstånga to home; he'd fallen forward, fast asleep. The laughter in Martin's face the first time I told him a knock-knock joke. My daughter, standing as tall as she can in the bathtub, her little stomach pooched out, a strained and grinning grimace on her face as she shows off her muscles. Ha! she says, LOOK MAMA! I've got muscles! HI-YAH!
Cracking Me Up: My husband, crooning in imitation of Elvis, "Are you långsamt* tonight..."
Edited to add: darcymcgowan found it for me! It was "Rest on the Flight Into Egypt" by Luc Olivier Merson, 1879. Thanks!!
*långsamt = slow