Memory Suspended

I construct each chapter of the novel I’m writing around a song. The main character (Heather Brochard) writes blog essays based on things she associates with the song, mostly memories from her college days.

While I was writing one of the chapters, several scenes brought to mind secondary songs. I considered including them in the novel because I love how a song can punctuate, punch or bring a contrary voice to what I’ve written.

For that very reason, I’ve decided not to add the extra songs to the novel. I don’t want the reader’s attention flying away from the story I’m trying, oh so carefully, to construct. But here, here I can place the scene, the song and the image together, each adding to and commenting upon the other.

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Here’s one of Heather’s blog posts from the chapter Fire and Rain.

As I look back on my college years, one characteristic that stands out most for me is how quickly people cycled in and out of my life. They’d be around for a semester or two, and then be gone forever. It’s hard to believe how influential some of them were in the few short months I knew them. It was a time of exploration, a time of learning about oneself, a time of great change and challenge. Life would have been very different if we’d had Facebook back then. Keeping tabs on people and ex-lovers would have been easier. The pattern of life’s interactions would have been different for me. I was terrible at keeping in touch.

I could tell you about trying to reconnect, of calling to catch up, of making lunch dates and plans to get together. Each time, we would be agonizingly polite. On the surface, we interacted as old friends, reconnecting and sharing, but it wasn’t truthful. We’d end our day, vowing to keep in touch, then walk away knowing neither one would call again.

Now twenty-five years later, I look through Facebook and reach out. Old friends rarely acknowledge my friend requests. My messages sit in their other box ignored. I search on-line. I see old friends whose contact information is blocked. You have to pay for phone numbers and home addresses now. Then, once you have the information, do you call? The thought will trigger an anxiety attack. The physical symptoms are so disturbing, I tell my body to stop, I won’t call. Please stop making me feel terrible.

Closure slithers away and the memories live on. Once I discover people are normal jerks, just like me, once they float down from fantasyland into the real world, then I can let them go. When the response is silence, it turns me inward, towards “What’s wrong with me land.” I tell myself to ignore the sharp, punched in the chest pain, the fluttering congestion making me struggle to cough. I try to force the fear away. I tell myself, “You can’t go back again.” I believe it. It isolates me. It keeps my loneliness blooming. It keeps the stories from evolving.

Down River from David Ackles by David Ackles. Released: 1968. Track 6.


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