I can’t even remember what book I was reading but I once read about someone who turned themselves physically upside down in hopes of getting inspiration. It didn’t work. Even though this was fictional – even though it didn’t work – I’ve been known to sit upside down on the couch or on the floor in hopes of gaining inspiration or perspective. The thing about inspiration though, is even if you feel inspired you don’t always feel this overwhelming drive to create. So rarely does a moment this necessary, urgent and immediate occur that you stop dead in your tracks and see before you a whole story. Sometimes moments like that happen in our lives, and in those moments we can see our lives unfolding as though they’ve been drawn out on a storyboard. Living those moments is easier than creating them.
Of all the days that our lives tend to fill there are only few so memorable and so powerful we can remember them as vividly as we do. Last Tuesday is a blur. The Tuesday before that is non-existent. But I remember each and every waking detail of that unseasonably cold night in March back in 2008. I remember how dry the backs of my hands were, the skin tight and white and flaky like the dry, brittle snow. I remember the feeling of someone I loved taking my lips with theirs like children holding hands. I remember that moment as if it happened minutes ago. It becomes increasingly muddled, shadowy. But I still remember it. I remember heartbreak – the first time it awoke inside me and I thought of nothing else but the sharp grueling pains in my chest and I remember writing out how funny it was and how I had shrugged off the incident when my friends asked how I was doing, but deep inside it lay buried. Buried but festering. I remember the first time I stepped off an airplane into a tropical climate. What I left behind in my home city was a -35 degree Celsius morning basted with blowing snow that crunched as I trudged through it in the dark morning dragging my suitcase to catch a shuttle to the airport. When I got there the gentle breezy humidity tousled my hair into dainty perfect waves and my feet were sweltering inside my close-toed shoes. I remember laughing and running as I trudged instead, through soft white sand and dipped my toes into frothy little waves. I remember when other kids began to be mean to me, in the sixth grade. One girl told everyone in my class I had lice. The boy who sat behind me poked and prodded and called me fat until I cried and from then on, people made crying voices at me, inflected their vocals sickly to imitate my wails, making me feel like less of a human being which I barely was anyway, being bloated and tubby and unable to speak because I was so shy. I remember days like that because they defined me in some way. In the moments of their occurrence, these memories were like a newborn grasping its mother’s finger. They were all I had during these times of my life.
What I don’t remember is the root of all my evils. I can recall them – in great detail. If you ever asked, I would tell you about them. If you ever prodded me I would go more into detail about them than you would ever imagine. If you forced these stories out of me, you’d be sorry. But I wouldn’t be. Because I can see and sense all their ugly, gruesome details. I can remember the colours and smells and sensations of touch – both painful and sensual. I can remember the temperature of the room, the smell of soil from the living room house plants, the tastes of Christmas cookies and homemade jam and the smell of the basement cellar where these things were kept. I just don’t remember how I felt about any of it.