Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Memories, The Thorns and The Roses

When you look back at your past, are your memories objective? Do you watch your past trip by with the static-laced nuance of an old movie? Or, like me, are your memories doused, twisted by emotion?

My memories seem to all fall into one of two categories. The Roses and The Thorns. Sometimes entire half-decades will be decorated by one or the other, dominated by whatever emotion I've chosen to assign that particular time in my life.

Whether person, place or experience, The Roses are all remembered as though I'm looking through fun-house mirror glass that magically smooths all the sharp edges off of the memory. I remember only the good, the grand, the mesmerizing. None of the mundane, disappointing or down-right heartbreaking moments make it through the fun-house mirror of The Roses.

The Thorns are my memories of particular people, places or events that have wrapped themselves around me, building strength and mass with each new length added to the rope throughout time until it's binding, strangling, poisonous. It's a case of remembering only the bad. Were there actually entire periods in my life, months, years, during which not one single good emotion was felt? Not one solitary act of kindness was given or received? No. I'm positive this is not the case. Even knowing the truth, The Thorns still exist, persist as I've shaded them in red and black in the coloring book of my mind.

The strange thing about memories, mine in particular, is their ability to genre hop, entirely on their own, as time passes. People, places, moments, that I once watched through the edge-softening glass of The Roses slowly become strangled by The Thorns as time goes by and I begin to remember the way the boy I'd been infatuated with as a teen always seemed to have a bugger peeking out from one nostril and I'd somehow convinced myself to ignore it. Or the way I'd go home lonely and wake up hungover after a raging party during college, or worse, go home with someone and wake up confused and disgusted.

Likewise, The Thorns hop tracks to The Roses. All the 5 AM alarm bleeps and grudging treks to the barn to feed horses while shivering in my PJ's underneath a stiff pair of Carhart overalls don't seem like such an inconvenience anymore. Now, I remember how the air was so clean and the stars were so bright in the country when I was 15, how my horse used to blink at me with sleepy brown eyes like she hated waking up so early too but was happy to see me all the same.

I remember huddling in my apartment, listening to a hurricane beat against the glass, waiting for the electric to go out and then wanting to cry when it finally did. Having to pass an armed guard stationed in front of the grocery store to wait in line an hour for the last loaf of bread and then sit in traffic for 2 hrs to go one mile because everyone in the state of Louisiana seemed to decide Baton Rouge was the place to be after the storm broke. Now, I remember going to the University and seeing the hundreds of cages erected in the gymnasium to house homeless pets and all the people who came to help take care of them so the families who were stuck in hotels or trailers or their cars wouldn't lose one more precious thing in their already stripped bare lives.

Sometimes it's difficult to remember, but thorns and roses are both parts to a whole. Without the thick stalk and warning thorns, the fragrant, beautiful flower wouldn't survive. Sometimes people, places, experiences are truthfully either good or bad. But, most of the time, they're a mix of the two and everything else in between. When we look back, it's easy to only remember the good or focus solely on the bad, at least it's easy for me. I wonder, in ten years, how I'll see this memory of myself, sitting here at 1 AM when I should be sleeping.

Will this me be one of The Roses or one of The Thorns?