Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wishing I Were Proust

My class at Mount Holyoke celebrated our 50th reunion in May. I didn’t go. I've worried over why because my four years at Mount Holyoke was a tremendously important chunk of my life as I am tracing it. Every day there produced a revelation, especially in the first year. I’ve written about this revelatory nature on May 25. I did go back for two reunions, but I found them very draining. I wasn’t reliving my years there at all – I was trying to keep up with the present. Who were these people? Trying to match them as they now were to what I had known was exhausting. The act of remembrance was distressing. Because I had lived “out of the loop” for so long, I would have known only one person in present time, my roommate, who happens to have a cottage a few streets over from the cottage we inherited. What’s more, she is the kind of person who wants to keep up with old friends, who has a magnificent memory for names and events.

I have always lived in the present. I do look back, of course, but I have a poor memory for details. Certain events do stand out, perhaps because I have told the stories over and over or have written about them, or have used them in my novels. My husband has a wonderful memory and one of his greatest pleasures is remembering the past, talking about it. He can remember many things about my past that I can’t, and in fact I say it is as if he has lived two lives, his and mine, and I haven’t lived one.

I don’t really look very far into the future either. For example, at the moment I am looking only as far as the beginning of October when we will come back from our September stint in Maine. My aunt tells me that she enjoys looking forward to an event, preparing for it, almost more than the event itself.

I have tried keeping a journal or a plain diary, so that I can look back and remember, but the keeping will become more and more sporadic until at last after a week or two it ceases. I have got into the habit of keeping necessary dates -- when we got a new furnace or a new roof. I write down birthdays in my dayrunner.

I keep several different types of lists of “things to do.” The mother in my first published novel, Flora, Write This Down, keeps lists, and as she gets older, she keeps more and more elaborate lists. Over 25 years later, I find myself doing the same thing. That is weird.

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