The Persistence of Memory

Memory lies, and memory moves the goalposts around. How else to explain that I have two separate-but-equal memories of the same incident?

It happened in class. No, it was on the bus. Definitely the bus, because I remember the slotted grooves of the bus steps working as a sluice. But a female teacher (?) uttered the famous line that left me traumatized for life, and that would have been in a class…

Psychosomatic nausea. This is the ultimate result, no matter the setting.

She was a trailer park girl. My bus made a special loop through the park to pick her up. Without a word said, she and all her trailer park classmates were automatically marked as “different” because of this special detour. She could be a circuit judge now for all I know, but all I remember is her stringy, dirty blond hair and slightly-more-worn-in clothes.

On the day in question, whatever the setting, she was wearing a tank green dress with daisies. Of this I am certain.

Of the rest, not so much. I remember her standing by the front steps of the bus, with the vomit streaming through her dirty blond hair and down the steps of the bus. But then I remember a female adult – our bus driver was a man, thus putting us back in a classroom – saying, “Everybody knows she had
eggs for breakfast.” And I remember staring at the daisies on her tank green dress, and the sick running down her hair, and the daisies turning into eggs and a lifelong nausea being born…

The pertinent details remain, but the background shifts as the years go by. Memory lies and obscures the truth, but it holds on to the sickening truths
and plays them on infinite repeat.

Like!
http://www.facebook.com/BrianWestbyeWrites

Follow!
@BrianWestbye

Advertisements
41 comments
  1. i know this story…in my own life…sisters. They never did anything wrong other than being born to poverty and abuse. At first, I shunned them as well…in the end, I wanted to cradle them and to whisper to them that it would change…

    • No shunning on my part. I just got cured of eggs for the rest of my life. 😉

  2. I wonder why a lot of memories are tragic. I understand that they just stir a lot of feelings, but the good memories never seem as clear as the bad ones. A kid sneezed one time in school and had this trail of snot going out his nose…sorry so gross…anyway, it is more vivid than anything else I remember around that age. It’s kind of sad.

    • Ah yes, the requisite snot trail. Got one of those in my memory bank as well. Still to this day I get sick around eggs, all due to this one snippet of memory, and I don’t even remember the setting. Incredible, innit?

      • Yes, it really sucks though…

        Another horrible memory is of this huge green grasshopper that was so fat it couldn’t hop. Our cats wouldn’t even attempt to eat it. They just pushed it around a little. I remember everything. Colors, cats, location. I even can see the gravel. Weird…

      • Write it and post it!

      • I might sometime. I should do a things that could have killed me as a child post. The grasshopper couldn’t have, but I really am lucky to be alive.

  3. How old were you when this happened?

    • Y’know, I don’t even remember that? Sometime between kindergarten and 2nd grade…I think?

      • I was just wondering because some of my earliest memories are also very vivid. Now, I can’t even remember what I was wearing yesterday.

      • YES! Now I’ll have to mine my earliest memory: getting lost in a department store when I was about four or five. That one’s still pretty vivid.

      • Were you aware you were lost or were you just wandering around?

      • Tune in next week to find out!

      • Okay. But if I die before you post it, I’m gonna be pissed.

      • Get some bubble wrap and stay in…

  4. I don’t seem to have any really early memories. I hear people say they remember things from when they were three – I have no recollection of anything so early. However, I vividly remember feeding my little brother a piece of a Gaines Burger (remember those dog treats?) when I was about 7. 🙂

    • Gaines Burger. Niiiiiiiiiiiiice.

  5. I have memories that might have been just dreams. But they are awfully vivid. For instance… I was hiding inside the front closet of our childhood home. I can remember it smelled of dust and the staleness of Mom’s canister vacuum sitting beside me. My mom was screaming, running around, squeezing behind furniture. She was being pursued by her best friend’s drunken husband. It was terrifying. I don’t know how it ended. But, speaking of closets…
    I had somewhat of a nervous breakdown in my mid-twenties. My best friend found me sitting in my work closet and crying. I wonder if I developed the feeling of closets as a safe place because of that dream/memory…

    • Holy…HOLY! Now I’m afraid to open my closet tonight!

      • I won’t be there, Brian, I promise. I haven’t felt the urge to crouch and sob in a closet in years!

      • Come on in! I’ll hold you ’till the monsters, breakdowns and drunks pass by!

  6. Powerful.

    • Yeah, I’m actually getting heavey reading all this again.

  7. I can completely relate. My earliest memories are often the most vivid – like when I was three or four and I snuck into the kitchen at my little sisters birthday party and scoffed her whole cake (who could blame me? It was decorated like a lion after all). But the again, I can vaguelly remember my school time table or what I had for dinner last night.

    It’s strange- I wonder what makes some memories so vivid and other memories so…not (I’ll think of the word later when I’m in a Spanish lesson or something). I wonder if it’s something about that event that triggers something?

    Nevertheless, amazing post. Great job.

    • A lion cake? Oh yeah, you really had no choice but to scam the whole thing.

      Memory is so randomly selective, too, right? Like I can rattle off It’s a Wonderful Life word for word, and opine on the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers as if I, and not my dad, grew up at Ebbets Field. But the new database upgrades we just launched at work, or my shopping list or the terms of the Versailles Treaty, forget it. Go figure. Great to have you here, Pixiepot, thanks.

      • 😆 Most certainly.

        Very randomly selective, I agree.

        Thank you, great to be here. 🙂

  8. Ick. Well written, but ick.
    If that really was a teacher making that remark, it was an awful thing to say.

    • Yes and yes!

  9. What a story! I started a new school in 5th grade, and the kid who sat to the left of me threw up all over my desk 10 minutes into my first day. I’ll never forget that smell.

    • …shudder… Welcome aboard!

  10. Wow… I have some memories like that. Thank god without the vomit, but strangely difficult to pin down, like a dream. You captured the feeling I have when I get out the pins and try.

    • You have your assignment now! Go for it.

      And if you get stuck, add some heave…

      • I couldn’t take up the assignment now. The specific memories I was reminded of are nebulous for a reason. I would need a kind and skilled guide to help, along with time to take it slow. That pushes the task far into the future.

        Somehow your piece brought to mind things we don’t remember clearly because they hurt too much.

  11. Worse than snotty over easy. I wonder if anyone remembers me peeing at my desk in the third grade? Wonder how they’d remember it? I was so shy I couldn’t ask to go to the bathroom.Couldn’t bare to have anyone know I went pee. Didn’t want anyone to look at me. Like that worked.It was more than a little hard to make friends after that. And hey, I also lived in a trailer. Smile. All true.

    • Oh, GAH! Big hugs, AP! I probably would’ve let fly with you. And I did once at the arcade, because I was cruising on Space Invaders. But I’ve said too much… I’m SO glad you’re here! Plenty of room, and no judgement.

      • Smile. And thanks for the hug. See ya soon!

  12. AgrippingLife said:

    So, I’m guessing not a fan of Green eggs and ham? Seriously, isn’t it amazing how our limited childhood perspective tries to process and make sense of these images? Not until we’re adults are we able to put all the pieces together and give it a truer meaning.
    Beautifully written, per usual.

    • I do not like…that particular food item!

  13. How so early, society and its conventions aid us in forming our likes and dislikes, our stereotypes, our formative prejudices…^^ And some events have their way of etching their presence in our memory banks, like they have a sure place, a bench reserved for them because they’re so vivid. They leave their marks…^_^ Hello, Brian!

  14. Ew, gross. Ew, gross. Ew, gross. 🙂
    I hate eggs, too. But not because of anything like this…just because they smell disgusting. And I’m pretty sure anything that makes me wanna puke just by smelling it is not for eating.

    I love your description of this girl. I think we all know her.

    • YES! YOU GET IT!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: