“…listing all the details I need to get down properly as soon as I have time: The music we listened to in Claire’s room, the old man I saw on my way to school, the view from my boyfriend’s car when we sat in a 7-Eleven parking lot watching people walk in and trying to predict their purchases, along with a record of what each person looked like and what they bought. My hands tremble, relaxing only once everything has been sufficiently documented, each memory in my grasp, as if by putting them down on paper, I can make them last forever.”
“I develop my own form of sacred geometry to find the secret knots among these details and fit them into the rest of my journal. I go through one every two months or so, and for that period of time, coordinate it and all other parts of my life with a specific mood. My handwriting, my doodles, the clothes I wear, the books I read, the music I listen to, the movies I watch, and the streets I walk down all match up. One goal of this is to create memories that are aesthetically pleasing and cohesive and perfect and synesthetic, each element in place (and never repeated in another journal or memory, making its singular usage especially special) so that the nostalgia will feel extra good. The other is to be as many people as possible, until I’m nobody at all.”
“I talk about hoarding with my neighbor, whose house is very clean and calming, who has no trouble ridding of her two sons’ childhood things. “I don’t need to keep them, because I have every memory in my heart.”
I tell Claire that before, I felt like an event had only really happened once it had been documented, shared, and praised. Then, just documented and shared. Now, just documented. She reminds me that there are always more moments to come, and that it will be fully experienced once I’ve let go of those of the past.”
“My boyfriend and I take a tiny road trip during spring break. We skip stones on the beach, drink Coke out of glass bottles, and watch a pink sunset sky settle into nighttime. We walk along train tracks in the dark and stop to look at an old car behind a restaurant. I ask him to stand in front of it so I can take a Polaroid, the only picture I would have of him.
I retrieve it from my bag once we’re on the dull Midwestern highway, leaving for good. The photo got exposed in the streetlight and came out as a mess of brown and blue spots. In a panic, I rapidly replay the day’s events in my mind, and jot down a few details to remember. At some point, my notes turn into questions that I just can’t shake:
“You can’t grasp your legacy when alive, and it makes no difference in death. What if I leave behind no record? What if I let every day vanish? If I don’t archive anything, am I free to change?”
The endless gray road with its yellow lights begins to feel less like a stretch of perpetual sameness, and more like an infinite sky filled with stars.”