Trying to remember well.

Trying to explain D.C. is like trying to tell you how I have fallen in love with a person you have never met. If you ask me, I will tell you about places and events and moments. I will relate to you quirks and small, precious details. When I smile to myself, you will ask, “What?” and I won’t have a good answer, except that the memory just makes me smile.

If you ask – really ask and want to know – I am happy to tell you, but you will be only a listener, separated from the reality of my stories by an entire world of experiences.

I feel like I’m asking myself about loving D.C. right now. I wonder what it was that I loved, so I keep telling myself the stories, but it feels so far away.

In other moments, D.C. feels so close, like there is a single pane of glass between my experiences and the place I am now. I am so close to those memories, yet I cannot truly reach out and touch them, or figure out their meaning.

It’s the same with my entire college experience, in many ways. My time SPU feels like a long-lost dream, and I am trying to remember what was good and terrible and wonderful and challenging and hard. With commencement just around the corner, I want to reflect on college and write something beautiful about what the last four years have meant to me.

To do that, though, I would have to generalize and package it nicely; I would have to lie about some things, and I am not ready to do that yet. I still want honesty from myself. I still expect honesty; I have nothing to hide from myself.

But it is so hard to write honestly. Sometimes the words just don’t come; sometimes when they do, they don’t fully capture the emotion or the moment. I look back on my freshman, sophomore, and junior years and I cannot remember what it was like to be myself then. I remember the struggles, but I can’t feel the tears or the joy or the anger. I remember what I felt, but I cannot capture how I felt.

One night last week, I went through all of my personal writings from the last few years, and I concluded that the best phrase I ever wrote was in a birthday letter to a friend when I said, “Maybe someday I’ll tell this story and laugh instead of cry.”

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Now that’s what I want to read in my birthday card.” Perhaps it’s not something I should have written in a birthday letter, but I am glad I did. That sentence is sad, yes, but it was also honest and true — and that’s what I wish I could write now.

After all, humans (or maybe it’s just me) have a distinct tendency to misremember things, and I want to do the opposite. I want to remember the ways it felt to be me – awkward freshman, confused sophomore, broken junior. I feel as though I have been becoming more of myself all this time, and I would go through it all again to get here.

So when I reflect my time at SPU and my year in D.C., I want to tell myself the stories and not just listen politely. I want to explain how I fell in love with myself and not nod and say, “Well, isn’t that nice. I’m glad you had a good experience.”

I want to write clearly and honestly and openly.

But right now D.C. feels so far away and the words just won’t come.

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One thought on “Trying to remember well.

  1. “I feel as though I have been becoming more of myself all this time, and I would go through it all again to get here”

    You made my heart smile, this is exactly what I have been saying to myself for the past few months. That pane of glass between you and your sharpest memories is sometimes the most painful. There’s something that words just can’t capture about the heartbreak of not being able to break through and be there again. Or maybe that’s what the word bittersweet really means..I’ve always wondered.

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