Monday, September 19, 2011

Semi-random thoughts about memory

I can remember each phase of my life that I've considered happy - when it started, how long it lasted, and when it ended.  There have been six so far: 

1. The high school band marching seasons of '87 and '88 (state marching band competitions).

2. The spring and summer of '93 (constant partying with my sister and friends) and on through the entire year of '94 (my first year in Austin on my own and living with roommates).

3. The spring of '96 to the spring of '97 (my friendship and relationship with Lorraine).

4. The summer of 2000 (my first semester at the Art Institute).

5. The fall of 2001 through the summer of 2002 (when Laura was living with me).

6. The spring of 2008 until the autumn of 2009 (a year into my life reboot after giving up poppy seeds and pain pills, then beginning my job at 7-Eleven, and my relationship with Leah, before things started to decay in earnest). 

Everything before, in and around, and after those specific phases ranged from ho-hum (most of the time), moderately depressing (frequently), or just downright horrible (rare, but awful... things such as heartache, my mom and dads divorce, feelings of extreme isolation, and full blown addiction).

It's interesting to note that the best period of my life, the spring of '08 through the fall of '09, occurred immediately after the worst, which began in early 2003 and lasted until the middle of 2007 - four solid years of constant drug use almost every day, feelings of hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts.  During that time, I believed that my life was pretty much over, and that the only thing I had to live for or look forward to was getting high the next day.  I may think that things are bad now, but I still marvel that my life is what it is, compared to what it was then.

Memory is a weird thing, especially when it's triggered by an association, such as a smell or a sound.  Mostly it's smells and sounds which trigger specific memories in me, and usually they are nostalgic memories of a past time in my life which was important in some way; sometimes bad and sometimes good.  It's remarkable when these associations take me by surprise, which is what happened today.

Recently I found an old mp3 player that had been lost since 2007, so I loaded some music onto it to listen to while I was in the cooler today at work.  I was digging through my old spare hard drive and came across an MC Chris album which I haven't listened to in a long time, since early 2009.  At the time I had really enjoyed it because it was so funny, so I thought, why not? and I loaded it onto the mp3 player. 

Today when I was in the cooler, I put on my headphones and started with Soundgarden.  That went by, and Asia was next.  Then MC Chris started, and when it did, I was immediately hit with a powerful rush of memories.  Oh wow, those days, when I first worked at 7-Eleven, it all came rushing back to me with the first few beats of the first song on that album.  Leah was a brand new friend, and the emotion that accompanies the memory of those days was omniscient.  Along with that feeling I also remembered that I'd used to like to tease her by playing and singing along with an MC Chris song called Fett's Vette (that song isn't on the album I was listening to, but that playful teasing was the first specific memory that erupted into my brain).  I had to stop for a moment as the emotions of nostalgia washed over me - it was so fun back then, and Leah and I had just begun to think of each other as more than friends, and the idea of church was a new and curious thing to me, and I was ignorant and happy, and all that mattered was the moment, and the moment was full of promise.

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