Sometimes it seems if I have the memories of different people. The landscape is changed, everything is familiar yet odd. The members of the family are not quite the same but they too seem to be caught up in the same temporal vomit. The lines between what was at one time but then was no longer and the line between that and what came next is blurred, fuzzy and yet sometimes it is crystal clear in a way that warns me something changed while I wasn’t conscious of it. Sometimes, I wonder if I didn’t start drinking to have some sort of tangible reason for my mind being unable to grasp reality in the way other people do. At least when you’re drunk you know your mind is fried, and even when you’re sober you still feel the ghost of bad judgment haunting your mind, as if your trained it that way.
Have you ever watched someone light a cigarette? It’s more dramatic at night, when the person is standing still in the dark, and if your hear them fumbling around then you can prepare for it, wait for it, and then the bright flare and you see the face bathed in light, smoke, and habit. Some people bow their heads as if praying and some soft appeasement to the god will be sent out with the first breath. The flare retreats into the lighter, and if it’s one of the old fashion species of flint and naphtha then you catch that first breath of incense, that olfactory burst like the smell of a chemical sun. There’s the click of opening and closing of the old species of lighter, unlike any other sound, and you know it when you hear it anywhere.
Like the clack of a cigarette light you know the sound of someone’s car, or truck, whatever they’re using to get to wherever they were to you, or somewhere you happened to be, and maybe it’s the engine noise or the way it creaks into a turn, or maybe it’s the same music over and over, or like a fingerprint it’s all the swirls and eddies of it all rolled in ink and no matter how hard you try to cannot define it but you know it when you hear it, or you did know, or now, years later, you ever realized it, but that sound of that car, or that truck, is all you have left of that person, and no matter how hard you try there isn’t anything else at all. Or maybe it’s less than that, and your mind has to reach for something, anything at all, and there just simply isn’t anything there at all that doesn’t cross contaminant into something else, but that POS Pinto with the red tape on the left lens in the back is all you will ever have, and even that needs a jump.
There’s that stain on a part of jeans, primer paint that always seemed to leave that paint odor in the air, and one day you find them in the bottom of the closet, and you remember the day the paint and the jeans met, and you stare at them as if it’s more than a little obscene for clothes with paint on them to have outlasted so much from that piece of time. You try them on, and it’s that same feeling you get when you borrow clothes, as if you body is trespassing somewhere it doesn’t belong. Habilimentary adultery, you feel as if this isn’t right, and as soon as you realize there isn’t any way in hell you can fit into them you toss them out, or worse, back into the closet. Somewhere in your mind, you very nearly wonder if you’ve done this before.
No, I didn’t stray, and I’m not rambling and I haven’t wandered off again. I’m trying to put the pieces together, like a puzzle made of colored water frozen into ice, and it’s melting, one color dissolving into another, changing both, obscuring one entirely, spreading out quickly to the others like fluid wildfire, until the photo of the puzzle doesn’t fit the mess in front of me anymore than it would the Mona Lisa.
Everything I’ve mentioned so far are triggers, catalysts, grey matter breadcrumbs left by someone we once were, leading back to somewhere we left in a place we cannot seem to wholly get back in less than a billion pieces. We have no idea why it works this way and we fail with stunning regularity in trying to control it. Nothing we seem to do makes it any better at all and almost everything we do makes it worse than the time before. Doing nothing at all allows it to sink below the surface until a trigger is gently pulled, or snatched, or brushes against some foreign object and blows up in our faces.
It cannot be entirely by chance these things are embedded in our minds like cerebral ticks. But what if there are accidental and our deepest memories are nothing more than the mental form of male nipples? We have fur on our feet and we tend to remember odds things for no reason yet no one ever wonders aloud why they have toenails, and that memory of your fifth birthday came back to haunt you after decades, decades, decades, simply because you smelled grape Kool-Aid.
Why do our minds do this? Can we edit, or delete the triggers? Do all cultures have these things stuck in their heads, and here we go, what do they look like? Surely they have some form, some chemical make-up, some knot of tangled nerves that serve as their home, don’t they? Do some people have more than others? Why so they form? When, at what exact moment did the smell of grape Kool-Aid, the click of a lighter, the sound of an engine, when did all of this, any of this, become part of our minds to the extent it is now some self code for a flash of moment in a life?