Memories are funny stories. There’s a lot of give and take to them, you can give stuff to them and take stuff away, depending on your mood.
“I despise you. You ruined my life.”
Who would say such a thing to me? How would I respond?
“I love you and I want you to get help.”
That’s what I think I would have said. Would I have said that? Yes, definitely I would have. In fact, when I think about it, that’s what I definitely and for sure remember saying.
Or maybe it wasn’t what I really said? Maybe it was something else, something similar.
Something with a bit of a different tone, along the lines of:
“You are the most spoiled, narcissistic fucking disaster of a human being I have ever met. Get some help or go fuck yourself.”
But that seems mean, especially in retrospect. I would never say such a mean thing to someone I love, would I? No, it wouldn’t have happened.
On our first date, Kris and I went to the symphony. It was a balmy August evening. His driver picked me up in his Rolls Royce and when I got to the Royal Theatre, Kris was standing there by the front door in his tuxedo. So handsome, so dapper – he even wore a top-hat! After the performance we met his friend The Cellist at the Bengal Lounge. God how we all laughed! Yes, we laughed riotously. It was as if we had known each other our entire lives! So there we were, filling our bellies with butter chicken and naan when the smoke started to fill the restaurant – a kitchen fire, can you imagine? We had to evacuate! On the front lawn of the Empress, Kris leaned over and whispered, “I love butter chicken, but I’d rather eat you.” Well, naturally he had rented a penthouse suite at the Empress, and just as soon as the firemen gave the all clear we were in the elevator. And then Kris pressed the alarm button on the elevator. “What in the devil are you doing?” I asked. I think you can guess what happened next!
Yes, that was our first date. I know, I know, it was wildly romantic. Also, it was snowing that night.
There is a beauty in forgetting. I think of my grandmother, whose brain is now made of swiss cheese. That’s what dementia does to you, it turns your brain to cheese. My grandmother is still beautiful. Her lips are still full and pink, her cheekbones high and proud, it’s just that now she’s an old, cute baby. She doesn’t remember that her husband has been dead for sixteen years – she wouldn’t believe you if you told her she ever had a husband at all! – she doesn’t remember her parents, or falling in love, or giving birth or being a nurse or traveling the world or even her own middle name. But she is happy. I think she’s the happiest pretty old baby I’ve ever seen, if not the happiest person I’ve ever seen. Actually, that’s not true. She gets mad sometimes, mostly at the health care aides my uncle hired to feed her lunch and help her to the bathroom. Also, she’s kind of racist now? She hurls racial epithets all over the place, and apparently she also throws books and tea cups and lamps.
But there’s still a beauty in forgetting, if you think about it. Right?