All my life I have been cursed with an eerily good memory. I’m not Marilu Henner good, but I am stalker good. If you and I met only once 15 years ago and you told me a story there’s a very good chance I’ll remember it. I remember things you don’t remember telling me. I remember things that you no longer remember.
This used to be cool. It was certainly a huge help as a student, making it so that I skated through much of school never having to study. It was great for memorizing lines, whenever I did that sort of thing. And it’s awesome for trying to win an argument with a spouse. In recent years, however, it’s mostly become a drag.
Dates don’t leave me. I’m like my very own Facebook “On This Day app.” “On this day last year you were doing this. This is who you were with. This is what you were hoping for.” Lately that all too quickly has translated to, “This is what didn’t work out. This is who is no longer in your life. These are the bad things that haven’t changed and the good things that never happened.”
I can also usually tell you exactly what I was wearing. This has become oppressive. I have far too many items of once loved clothing that have just become imbued with bad memories like some sad aura. I can’t put them on without thinking about the bad time during which I was wearing them and before I know it, I’m experiencing it all over again. My closet needs a trigger warning.
So I’m coming to accept the fact that no matter how good some of these clothes still are, I have to get rid of them for my own mental health. This may be the very definition of a first world problem. But it’s also just an unfortunate side effect of a brain that just can’t stop remembering. And no amount of wine can change it despite how many experiments I’ve performed over the years.
So as I prepare for this purge I’ve written an elegy for one of the items my “Sad Poncho.”
I mourn how happy buying it made me. I had coveted it all summer after seeing it on a friend. I’d never done that before then, both wanting to wear a poncho as well as seeing something on a friend and having to have it for myself. I decided it was too expensive, however, and instead waited all summer for it to go on sale. I daydreamed about all of the times I would wear it, thinking of all the things it would be perfect for, and every time one of those occasions came up and I didn’t have it I would think wistfully, “Soon.”
I mourn all of the happy times that I had pictured myself wearing it that never came. All of the, “Soon’s” that never happened.
I mourn the friend I first saw it on who is no longer around. I can’t look at it without thinking of her, how much fun we had shared and how, ultimately, I felt abandoned and let down by her.
I mourn all of the bad times I wore it during. Not because I am sad to see them go, but because they have never passed. They’re still with me, stuck to this stupid piece of clothing, like burrs that I can’t shake off and whenever I try to brush them off, they just prick me all over again.
And I mourn myself. I mourn the parts of me that got chipped away during all of those bad times I wore it during; parts that I may never get back.
There’s a list of ways in which I wish I felt “normal,” like I imagine other people might. Today at the top of the list is envying people with the ability to forget. Who can put a piece of clothing on and not make it a huge thing. Because it’s not just a few items of clothing I need to shake off sometimes. It’s also people or places…sometimes whole cities or parts of the country, that aren’t as easy to stuff in a bag and give to Goodwill. And as I send Sad Poncho off to what I think will be a better place, I can’t help but wonder if I will ever be in one, too.