Sunday, October 30, 2011

it's wonderful to have memories you can edit

and that was part of my original intent. we moved thirty times by the time i graduated high school, age 16.  and it included two years in the utah desert and two years in germany. this formed a habit it never occured to me to kill. i unconsciously followed a family tradition, all the while telling myself, 'a poet has to be a citizen of the world.'

we re-create memories. turns out they don't really exist. this makes having a pile of shards quite exciting. for example, the day i received the telegram telling me my father died unexpectedly. after calling my mother, i said to myself, 'i'm going to enjoy this day.' yes, we think once our parents gone, we'll be free of them. i've been wrong both times.

i wandered over to the berlin zoo. looking at captured animals in the grey light couldn't have cheered me up. and i recall a cheap eating house where clients feasted at communal tables. what i remember: the wire-rimmed glasses of the fellow sitting opposite me. actually, my stunned state didn't allow much reflection.

or the day bali finally turned sour for me. a german guy told me it would, after awhile. the ceremonies which had been bright and exotic, lost all their color. the garbage in the gutters overshadowed the kids painting florid pictures. i'd overstayed my welcome, my senses surfeited, the pimples of the populace now showing through.

i figured in old-age i'd like a lot of memories, and how true it's become, as long as i can leave out nostalgia or the desire to change anything, like the time the girl in amsterdam finally agreed to make love with me and i'd gotten so angry i took my revenge by walking out. how stupid can you be! or the bleak goodbye to renate before she committed suicide.

in a good mood you can choose the high times, leave out the turbulent stomach or the aching back carrying a pack. often i simply remember a street corner in bangkok, a weary museum guard in istanbul, the look of bottecelli under glass. each gives me a thrill. i was there. i saw it all. and with a little editing the past charmed and bright.

the planning for a trip, the memories a few days after, this is all you really want. the actual journey full of potholes. and once you get home, the photos gradually replace the adventure. yes, you traveled the world. doing it on the cheap, you got down with the people more than once too often. these aspects of the facts can be deleted. the young save up a wealth of magical details, hitching through ireland and crossing the border into guatemala, photos of wanted guerillas all over the guards' walls, as they fingered high-powered rifles, staring at you.