Tuesday, September 02, 2008


As certain of the subtler emotions seem to become more sporadic in my life, I have progressively adjusted to seeing the world without color, the reason for which the photograph to the left is in black and white. Ironically, given that hope remains faithful, I am still able to see color in the darkest shades of gray and thus regard the image as beautiful and promising. In a sense, its content represents my perception of things about the subject of the following reflection now and twenty years before.


Throughout my existence, I have maintained the delusional belief of having the ability to remember with unequivocal exactitude the specific time and date of memorable life events. This idea has itself been based on another delusion: Regarding my memory as above average; nothing exceptional, but simply above average. Such ability to process, record, and recall information, indeed, has allowed me to gather a few academic honors, as well as the respect of several friends, but its is far from extraordinary, especially considering that those honors have not withstood the test of time. I sure can recall every detail I experienced during the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, relive the pain when I broke my forearm in 1986, or even re-experience the surge of ineffable heat during my first kiss in 1981, but since those events pertain to flashbulb memories, as I try to recall more commonplace events, the effects of age or information overload have forced me to accept my memory as nothing more than normal. Twenty years ago I would have tried to rationalize my current deficiencies as a lack of interest or mere inattention, but after progressing through certain stages of life and after having poorly resolved their conflicts, I no longer have interest in favorably deceiving myself as a way to deceive others.

This sophomoric and almost infantile form of self-exploration, about my memory and about my self, stems from the situation of suddenly remembering that this Memorial Day weekend marks the twentieth anniversary of my arrival to this country, but I had to delve into my diaries in order to corroborate facts and dates that I had considered unforgettable. To my credit, I remember exactly when I left my natal city: September 2nd, 1988 at 7:45 in the morning. I used to remember the flight number and the airline that I used, but since I do not recall where I placed the boarding pass that I have carelessly saved for posterity, there is no way to include that information here. As I write and search for experiences in my memory, things increasingly become clearer. The outcomes, however, are the result of inductions leading to a conclusion that, although true, would have been easier to derive if I had remembered everything correctly. As a footnote, I would like to mention that the timeline of this particular event is obfuscated by a few variables—those related to inconspicuously attempting to cross a massive body of water in the middle of the night, which, by the way, are the subject of another essay I have written and consulted for this piece. The important thing about the current matter lies, ironically, in my inquiry about its significance.

Why does this seem so important now, apart from my inadequacy at accepting my normal memory abilities? Yes, why now if in the aforementioned essay I have described my experience in California during the ensuing years since my arrival as nothing but normal living? We humans like to categorize things into orderly, although arbitrary, compartments, and it may very well be the case that the end of my second decade here is providing an excuse to futile musings. However, life sometimes becomes as interesting as fiction and twenty years to the date and time of my arrival to this country, exactly, I will be starting a new job. This coincidence, apparently, has stirred emotional fibers I had considered long forgotten.

(Or suppressed, but that is the subject of another sophomoric, and long, form of self-exploration.)