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a note on memory

**A Note on Memory**

As I’m working to write about my trip to Bangalore to celebrate my sorority sister, Vineeta’s, wedding, I was plagued by an issue: my memories are certainly not those my friends would want to read! This sent me down a rabbit hole of speculation…

Why is it that I cannot impress upon my mind, consciously, what I think it should retain? I have many of what seem superfluous, inconsequential memories. Yet things I wish I remembered are lost. The best, happiest ones tend to evaporate from my mind, or, if not, they’re so buried they take effort to dredge, unearth. What reside at the surface are the hard ones. Some psychologists posit that this is a survival mechanism: we remember what hurt us vividly so that we know how to avoid it in the future. Perhaps this is what fuels memoir writing: la moraleja – the moral lesson.

It is interesting to note the truth of this: yesterday, my professor of Creative Nonfiction at UNM explained that story needs conflict. Without conflict, there is no story. He said, “Who wants to read a romance without conflict? A happily ever after without any challenge?” The class was silent, but I thought, Well, perhaps I do. Perhaps the world needs to see what real love is. It ain’t all sunshowers and buttercups; it’s hard work. Yet I was slow to respond. Prof moved on: “We don’t trust happily ever after – even Hollywood ones. They’re too unrealistic.”

And although I disagree with him that there is no space whatsoever for happily ever after (or perhaps, more realistically/accurately, contentment ever after), he’s not wrong! I may fret over buried and faded happy memories, but my memoir content is sourced in the challenges I’ve overcome. Moreover, conquering them has helped me to arrive at a sort of happily ever after in terms of self-confidence, self-love. And that’s just fine. Nay, it’s right and good – because what sort of love is worthwhile if it came at no cost?

But back to memory: today, I will press my mind to flesh out the best of my memories of a wonderful time in my life…and I already see the conundrum. Those best moments come back to me as represented in photographs, not memories. How very strange…

~meg vlaun

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