Cognitive Dissonance
The Widow's House

What is the memory of Kay?

With Kay - Aug 1972

Some memories hold on. They dig in deep and maybe we're unaware; but a photograph, a sound, in my case, often a smell, slams the entire vignette into the present. When this happens, I write as much as I remember. I do this quickly and in great detail because once that memory comes forward it shifts through the lens of today. Each time a story is told, a memory revealed, if only to ourselves, it changes. Little by little the original story reconstructs itself to fit the current narrative. There's nothing wrong with this, it's just the way our brains work.

Just a year ago, before Kitty died, there was or was not an event involving a trip into the city for the sole purpose of saying goodbye. I remember it that way, but Pat does not. In just twelve months two stories morphed. Which is correct is irrelevant.


HBO - True Detectives, season 2, episode 3:

Ani is speaking with another woman. The woman with the long hair might be her sister. They certainly know each other. The reason I'm not clear is I don't much care for season 2, mostly because I'm irritated that it's not season 1. I keep it on as background distraction when I'm learning a new knitting sequence. The current project involved translating Japanese knitting symbols to 'English', rewriting the pattern so it made sense to me, and then trying to figure out how the hell she made those six stitches work together. It's a lot of fun, it's incredibly good for my brain, and also I'm a masochist. Known and documented fact.

Ani is throwing a knife at what looks like a man shape built of railroad ties. It's super solid, not moving. The other woman is talking, Ani is only partially listening. The other woman asks why some memories stick like they happened yesterday, while she can't remember what the hell she did last week.

I'd have to watch the scene again to get this right, but then I'd probably have to give you more context. This is what I heard:

You look into the abyss and it sees you. You have memories, but some memories have YOU. It isn't you remembering. The memory remembers you.

A dozen place markers slipped off my lap and skittered across the floor. I had my needle in sideways and down at an angle that didn't make sense. This was my third try and I frustrated. Had the circumstances been different, I would have dropped everything and transcribed the entire scene. 


You aren't remembering. The memory is remembering you. 


That scared the crap out of me because I can always tell myself it's a memory. It's in the past. It is mine to do with what I want. I can examine and keep it, or examine and toss it into the dark; a thing that has been bested and sent packing. I haven't done a lot of thinking on this problem yet. The memory of the scene is still very fresh. However, what comes to mind is if a thing has you, the only way out is to have it. The abyss looked you in the eye and now you have to look back. 

Or not. I suppose you can turn your back on it, but I imagine the ramifications might be bigger than you'd think. I don't imagine. I know. I know and understand better why some things just won't go away. They lie under the surface, bubbling up through the fissures of the present. We might think we've got that memory shoved into a lead lined box, when, in truth, the memory has locked us up the lead lined box. 


What a way to start the day. I started with the photograph from August, 1972 because it's a good memory. That is Kay with me and Jack. Kay is seventeen. I remember that. Her father was a skydiver who drove his full size airstream to the dropzone. They camped better than any of us. I remember Kay had a little sister; she might have been four, and a middle sister, probably twelve. Both younger sisters were withdrawn and looked frightened. I don't know when their mom died but Kay was gentle in a place that had no space for gentle. She loved my brother as if he was hers. I don't know what she lost, other than her mother, that created the space for him, but I do know he really needed that love. 

One day Kay didn't come back. When I asked, I was told that she was getting into some trouble and her father didn't want her on the dropzone anymore. I had a vague idea, just vague, about what 'getting into trouble' might constitute. I have a far better idea today. I got into that same sort of trouble eight years later, and THAT is the memory that has me.