I have this shirt: Its Red. Its Plaid. And I’m pretty sure I found it in the Men’s sale section at Urban Outfitters. I like to wear it to bed, to school, and on mountain tops where I take inspirational, instagram-able pictures.
I love my Red-Plaid shirt. It’s graced with a shortage of buttons and an abundance of Memories. Whether its eating every flavor of popsicle during a chick-flick marathon on senior week, rock climbing for the first time after 3 hours of sleep, or writing “17” on my face in a mirror and realizing later that’s not how it works—my Red-Plaid shirt has been present in more than one my defining moments.
I’ve noticed that life transforms as it goes from present to memory. It takes on a ‘Rosy retrospection’ that eliminates the wrong and illuminates the right. That stressful first week of school becomes “The Best Time ever” and that painful breakup, “Not so Bad”.
This past year I have watched as memories transform within themselves, going from wonderful, to painful, to wonderful again. Memories are not static pieces of life, but dynamic moments morphing with their owner’s present state of being. Your ‘Ups‘ lace your memories with nostalgia, your ‘Downs’—with heartache. These memories exist not only in the past but also in the present, reflecting the beholder’s intricate perception of their own life.
When it comes to memories, I have a somewhat invasive habit of asking people about their own. I’ll say “Whatever’s on you mind. Now. Go” and expect to be graced with some snippet of their life. I like to see what threads of memory are woven into the whatever-colored-Plaid shirt they wear. Because I’ve come to see our memories not as windows to our past, but as doors to who we are in this very moment.
I love my memories. I love the way they weave together in an elaborate story with me as the protagonist. Within their seams I find the day I got my dog, the moment I scored that goal, or hurt my knee, or got into college. I find that sunset, that snowstorm, that unbeleivable night sky. This fabric takes form with each moment of my life. My Red-Plaid shirt holds memories where buttons once were. They’re sewn into its frayed sleeves and limp collar, illustrating a story from a chapter of my life.
Soon my Red-Plaid shirt will be devoid of buttons, frayed to the point of embarrassment, and I’ll have to find new Mountain-Top attire. My new favorite shirt will soon be the vehicle for my defining memories. It will change as these memories, and I, evolve with each passing moment of my life.
Unanswerable Question: Do our present states shape our memories or do our memories shape our present state?
“He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”
– Gabriel Garcia Marquez