I can’t remember.
It sounds like an excuse, but it’s always been a serious problem for me. What I can’t remember, I can’t write, talk about, or do. The vivid details that many people love to write about are missing from my mind, which makes it difficult to write anything well.
I can’t picture things in my mind. I don’t remember what a face looked like the second I turn away from it, I don’t remember what a voice sounds like the second I stop listening, I don’t remember what a sensation feels like the second I stop feeling.
I can’t remember my sister’s words and actions and feelings when she was accepted into SLA. I can remember that she did. I can remember that she was excited. But that hardly makes for a good story to say: “She got into SLA. She was excited.”
I can’t remember what it felt like to blow past a deadline last year, or the year before, but at least I can imagine the feeling of dread knowing you need to write, you can write, you have to write, you will write, you don’t write. This feeling is constant.
It’s amazing how literal things can be sometimes. Before I came to SLA, I thought being “under pressure” was just a figure of speech. But since then, I’ve come to be familiar with the vise around the temples that is missed expectations. The pain of not knowing is a splitting headache, one that lets up only when I allow myself to not care. This feeling is constant.
I consider myself to be good at making words line up with punctuation so that they sound nice. Sometimes those words even mean something.
I am not a good writer. I can’t conjure descriptions that instantly bring to mind the feelings my readers and I have in common because I don’t remember what those feelings were like. I can’t conjure descriptions of the canyon I hiked down in 9th grade because I don’t remember what the canyon looked like, what it felt like. I can’t conjure descriptions of what it felt like to be in the hospital thinking I might have to give up one of the only things I love because I don’t remember. I can’t conjure descriptions because I can’t remember.
It’s frustrating trying to remember and not being able to, not being able to write. Frustration is a hot feeling, an angry, bitter feeling, a feeling of disappointment, a feeling of entitlement. I need to remember in order to write, I think, and if I don’t I’ll fail. I should be able to remember, I think, so why can I not? I know the answer, of course, is that I don’t know, and that answer is as frustrating as the question.
I can remember frustration vividly because I am describing it to you, my reader, as it happens.
Some of my earliest memories involve the Atlantic Ocean, swimming in it and laying on its beach in the sun. I remember these things happening. I am sure the water was salty and the sun was hot, these are facts. The sand was gritty, and the jellyfish stung, these are facts. But feelings: how the water tasted, how the sun and sand and felt, how the view looked from the crest of a wave, are missing. I can’t write about those memories, despite cherishing them, despite them being part of the core of my identity, because I know nothing about them that isn’t common knowledge.
I’m talking to my parents. It’s 2014, and I have an english benchmark still to start that was due several days ago. We’re angry at each other because we each feel like the others aren’t listening. They ask why I haven’t started my benchmark. I say I don’t know.
I can’t remember.
It hurts, sometimes. I don’t, or maybe can’t, deal with it very well. The pressure builds, and as it does the familiar feeling of pressure on my head builds with it. I want to do anything else but think, even as I know I need to think, even as I know I need to write, even as I know I need to remember. But I can’t, or maybe don’t, remember.
I switch tabs, and find a comfortable spot, and read about how Joel Embiid is going to save the Sixers, how Chip Kelly ruined Christmas, and how LSV thinks Jace is a format staple. Because being elsewhere is safe. Not thinking doesn’t hurt.
But I can’t not think. Not thinking is dangerous. Not thinking gets me weeks behind with no way to catch up, desperately hoping that next time I think and do my work, so I don’t end up in the same situation, feeling lost and alone and desperate and failure.The feeling is constant.