Tuesday, July 12, 2016


light the corners of my mind…

A  few weeks ago, reunion fever spread amongst my classmates. I’m talking about my high school class, my youth-movement group, and my old scout troop. I don’t recall large get-togethers in previous decades. All at once, there was a “come-now-or-miss-this-once-in-a-lifetime-event” sentiment.

I grew up half a world away, and managing a trip was not to be. But this electronic and global age has a solution for this. Internet video-chat, sharing photos, and instant communication anytime/anywhere, bridge time-zone differences that turn night into day. Unlike me, some made the actual voyage back to Jerusalem, and the parties went on throughout the month of June.

But for all the merriment, there was a troubling aspect: familiar names I couldn’t quite place, and aged-faces that drew a blank. I am certain my name and face was a blank for some.

I started wondering about the corners of my mind.

Then I got a few urgent (if embarrassed) emails from old friends I have kept in touch with. They needed my help to remember others. I actually remembered at least as much as they had, maybe more.  

It wasn’t early dementia setting in, it was the ephemeral aspect of memory, that store-if-you-need-it-for-later, and then lose-it-if-you-didn’t-use-it.

Seeing images of the faces from our youth, all was restored. I just had to join names to the young faces, and then attach them to the faces of today.

This got me thinking about how I write characters and their memories. In fiction, people remember a whole lot. It’s a device necessary to convey back-story or make sense of a plot. But I now see how unrealistic it is.

What I once considered to be fantasy, The Bourne Identity, where a character with a partially-erased and fractured memory is globe-trotting in search of who he is, turns out to be closer to reality than the standard realistic stories I thought I was writing.

Misty water color memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind…


  1. Memories are precious--at least the good ones. I find my most vivid memories are often the ones I'd most like to forget--the times I was extremely embarrassed or when I did things that I regretted deeply. I'm sure it has to do with what you mentioned about using it or losing it, i.e., how often we replay the memories in our mind. But I guess those unpleasant memories keep me humble and hopefully make me more forgiving of other people's mistakes, which is a good thing.

  2. Excellent post and I'd just like to add that I'd love to see more stories where the protagonist is wracking her brain to remember something from her youth - such as a long forgotten friend - or something she has misplaced even. Thanks for making the link to our writing.

  3. Oh, that is interesting, Mirka, and you are right about being realistic in portraying memories of our story-people. There are bound to be gaps. Still, so wonderful you got to walk down memory lane. Vijaya

  4. Loved your post, Mirka. It started me thinking about memories from my past. I've always conceded that I have a poor memory for past events. However... if I have a photo from the past, the memories come flooding back for me. Without the photo to unlock the memory I'm lost. For this reason, I'm a dedicated photo journalist of family events and occasions.

  5. Great post, Mirka! I like, too, that the Internet can turn "night into day," as you described. I'd be lost without it, as I talk to family. How neat you could reminisce for your reunions. Sweet pics of you and your long hair!

  6. I find the same thing with my high school class, everyone is much more interested now in getting together than during previous reunion anniversaries. I think the internet plays an important part in keeping people in touch. In the old days when people moved away, etc. that was it, they were gone and eventually faded from memories. But today's kids keep up with each other forever, no matter what.
    As for memory, I'm often amazed at trials that take place years after the crime, yet everyone seems to remember exactly what went on.
    Love the photograph. Is that you in the foreground?

    1. Yes, that's me of then.
      Incidentally, both photographs were taken by the same person, with whom I never lost touch.

  7. Mirka, fine perspective on our past friendships. But for me, as a Navy brat, always on the move, never able to keep in touch with the friends I knew for a year or two before we moved again, I have very few old friendships from the past. And once I moved North, forgeddaboutit.

    Nearly alone in Sudbury, ON, Your Friend.

  8. I'm much more likely to remember someone's name than his/her face. I have something called prosopagnosia and have a lot of trouble recognizing people I should know but haven't seen in a while.
    Once my dentist said hi to me (by name) in the grocery store and I didn't have a clue who it was so I could introduce my mother to him. O-O

    I've kept in touch with the old friends I've wanted to, one dating back to Grade 8, one since I was 3.

  9. My memory has gotten worse each passing year. I struggle to remember so many things that I've worried about the state of my brain too. I guess that's what makes writing so important--a way to capture and lock in memories if a bit elaborated.

  10. Memory is a fickle mistress. I've always had a very good one, until having kids. I'm told it may come back one day, but for now I'm a bit of a flibbertigibbet.

  11. Memories tend to distort over time. I love when I can portray that through two characters who recall the same event very differently.

  12. It's funny how we remember the most significant moments, both good and bad. At my 30th high school reunion several years ago, what I remembered most was people's behaviours, their place in the teenage population - most of them seemed about the same to me - for better or worse. Great picture at the bottom!