I was sitting on my recliner watching TV wondering what my next post was going to be about when out of the blue I got a message from my old friend Richard. “Hey, you ever think about writing about your fathers train set in Hampstead?”
Suddenly I have an entire post written out in my head. But as I started to write I realized I had nothing. My memory of the train set is only a whisper, an image sitting at the very edge of my mind.
I emailed my father asking him what he remembers about the train set. He did not recall a train set in Hampstead, neither did my mother. They did however remember one in Cote St Luc that took up a quarter of basement. We moved out of that house in 1968, I was three. All of which makes sense. The train set Richard and I remember took up a large portion of the basement. And while Davey Crocket may have “kilt himself a bear when he was only three” I was not so advanced and rather than out killing bears I could have very well been trying to stand on my toes to look at a train set.
The problem is Richard, we met in elementary school there is no way he was ever at the house in Cote st Luc.
Any way one looks at it memory is a fickle beast.
The other day the song “Me and My Bobby McGee” was playing on the radio, the second Roger Miller got to the line ‘windshield wipers keepin time I held Bobby’s hand in mine…’ I was transported to my youth. Vivid images danced through my head of my father and one of his friends sitting in the country house, fire roaring in the fire place guitars in hands singing and playing that particular song. It is a Norman Rockwell moment forever etched in my brain.
The smell of gasoline conjures up memories of my fathers speed boat he had back in the day. I remember having to fill the two little red gas tanks that sat behind the back seats. And from these memories others spill forth. They are wonderful, the good the bad and the ugly.
I love photographs, I’ve got an ipod an ipad a camera many sd cards with loads of photograph’s on each one. We have boxes and albums after albums of photos. And I will keep them, add too them and eventually they will be passed along. But at the end of the day the memories that mean the most to me are not the ones in the photo’s. They are the ones forever etched in my brain regardless of how fuzzy or inaccurate they are.
I’ll forever remember my polar bear teddy bear, (I still have it) and how Teddy saved me from the dark nights and bad dreams. I’ll never Forget the t-shirt with Flipper the dolphin on it. Or how about my brother scaring the crap out of me with the large paper mache indian mask. Or the time the steering wheel wouldn’t turn the wheels on the bumper cars and I was stuck in a corner of the track. Or the theme from the six million dollar man running through my head when the orderly was wheeling me into surgery.
When all is done it is not the photograph, it is not the object. It’s the mind and the feelings that are evoked. I don’t think we can control preserve or dismiss them. They just are.