Who am I but the memories I possess

a+memory

Millie Alt

a memory

Who am I?

Who am I but a collection of pieces? Pieces of my people, pieces of my books, pieces of my places, my endeavors, my love.

Pieces on pieces on pieces on pieces on pieces. Shoved together as one might stuff a suitcase before a long trip when attempting to conform to the carry-on size restrictions. Forced together like two puzzle pieces that just might fit but don’t.

I am a jumble. I am haphazard and wobbling and soon to tip but not quite yet. Any day now.

But, again I ask, who am I?

I inquire over the creaking of my multitude of loose pieces. I implore over the pat of rain outside of my windows—or are those tears?

Who. Am. I.

And finally, the answer comes. The glue that is holding me steady despite the appearance of brokenness, of fragility: memories. I am made of memories. Each part of me, each piece, was formed in a single moment.

I can see some, in my mind’s eye. I see snapshots of sun-drenched carpet, polaroids of a soft smile, an angry eyebrow. A wide-lens image of a happy, young family at the door to their new house, their home. These are who I am.

Because who am I if not my experiences. Where did I get my love of reading if not from my father reading to me in a cornflower-blue chair by a window—The Cricket on the Hearth. Where did I learn to contain my stress as I do if not from my mother and her organized chaos, returning every winter just to wash away with April showers.

I am made of memories. They seep through cracks in my frame like persistent weeds through a dry sidewalk. They affect my sight, and now I see the world through bifocals—one lens romantic, one jaded.

They seep through cracks in my frame like persistent weeds through a dry sidewalk. They affect my sight, and now I see the world through bifocals—one lens romantic, one jaded.”

Memories of a Tuesday afternoon drenched in salty tears have darkened my rose-colored glasses. Memories of a bright Sunday night filled with Twizzlers and sitcoms lighten them again.

Memories, memories, memories. Memories fill my senses, drowning out the world, changing my heart, creating prejudice: prejudice that I am unconscious of, my memories creating biases, changing my views, and forcing my hand.

And so, I find myself to be a collector of sorts. I collect books, plants, and, now, memories. I jot them down on napkins, saving fortunes covered in cookie crumbs. A drawer full of trinkets, meaningful only to me, the creator of their memories.

I collect because I am afraid of losing, memories slipping away like dreams on the edge of sleep. I am afraid of forgetting. I am afraid that one day, once I am old and have experienced an entire human life, once I am full to the brim with memories like liquid gold, I will suddenly find myself empty.

A shell.

More so than even death, I am afraid of forgetting.

So, I collect. Because I am collecting myself. A streak of sunlight on carpet, a streak of yellow paint on skin, a streak of purple in a darkening blue sky. These images are who I am. I am made of memories.