On January second of this new year, I lost internet for five days. Five days!!! It was scary at first, wondering what to do with myself while having my morning coffee – I am always in my email then, writing friends, visiting sites of interest. Now, for the first time in a long time I was left alone with myself. It was an interesting experience.
This project came to me while I was spending time without internet. I have a couple of friends I write to regularly, and I realized while cut off from them, that I have what can be described as a Need to Write, even if it’s not written specifically to someone.
Often while writing my friends, something they say will trigger a memory in me, and so I will share it with them, but in less detail than my memory is throwing at me. But it gave me an idea. I decided to start recording these Randomly Accessed Memories – to just think of something that happened in the past, and start writing. I guess it’s the Blogger’s way of creating one’s Memoirs, albeit in a un-ordered state, hence the word Random
Principally, this is for my daughters – to give them a few of my memories, should they be interested, but shared in a way that they can either read or not, as they wish. I think they know me fairly well, at least as much as anyone can, without actually being in another person’s head. But I don’t talk a lot about me, don’t really share memories aside from rare occasions when something fits into a discussion we are having. Partly because I am more interested in what is happening in their lives when we are together, I want to know how they feel, hear what they are up to, and just be there for them. But also because speaking is so much more difficult than writing. I have always been able to write what I think and feel so much more easily than I can speak it.
And when I write, it’s in English, which is easier for me. I don’t know if it’s a result of aging or what, or simply lack of practice, but I find it more and more difficult to speak in French. I’ve been here over half my life, but I still am more comfortable in English. I read, and watch tv and movies in English all the time, write to my friends in English, the only time I use French anymore is when out in society or with my daughters. Though they both speak and understand English perfectly, for some reason our family dynamic was always in French, and that habit still continues to this day. And the fact is, I simply cannot express myself as well in French as in English. But it’s also a habit that is hard to break – occasionally I will lapse into English when talking with them because something simply can’t be expressed the same in French, but then we’ll continue in French, as usual.
Regardless of any language barriers, I do feel I’ve developed a close relationship with my daughters. They both know they can come to me with any problem, and I will listen without judgment. I know I will always be more Mom than Friend, but that’s not a bad thing – on the contrary, it’s a special privilege and joy, to know I gave birth to these two beautiful beings. My daughters know they can trust me, and that I will always love them, no matter what.
I try to give my daughters the kind of relationship I wish I had with my mother, but didn’t. I used to daydream that one day I would find some kind of journal or letters or any kind of written record, from my mom, so I could know her better. I always wondered who she was, this woman who gave birth to me. I remember once when I was around ten years old, while looking for something in some built-in cabinets at home, I found a shoebox full of letters. They were, from what I could tell, love letters between my dad and mom, when he was in Europe during the war. It was the first time I got a glimpse of my mother as a real person, apart from her being my mother – someone with a past, a life before motherhood – and it somehow made her more real to me.
I didn’t manage to read much before my mother found me sitting there fascinated, my nose in the first of those letters. She took them from me and told me they were private, and that was the last I saw of them – ever. I still wonder what happened to them. Were there passages she didn’t want her daughter to see? Was she so intent upon setting the right example that she couldn’t share who she really was?
But it was not to be. I do know those letters existed, but what happened to them? Did she get rid of them for some reason? Lose them in a move? I’ll never know, and I regret that we never got a chance to know her, who she was. We never had a real bond between us. It wasn’t for lack of trying on her part, but in the long run, I think she was too worried about raising her daughter to “be good”, about setting an example of how a young girl was supposed to act, and she somehow didn’t dare let me know she might have had a few mis-steps along the way. It would have taken a lot of the pressure off me, I think, if I had known it was okay to make mistakes now and again.
Aside from all that, I just wanted to know who she was. But she never let me see more than the surface.
I can, however, make up for it with my daughters. I can occasionally catch a few memories and make them accessible to them. If they are curious. If not, that’s okay, too. I’m doing this as much for me as for them. I kept personal journals for years, (though nothing early, and there are many gaps in them) and maybe one day they will want to go through them – or not. It’s a lot of writing, and honestly? Once I’m gone, I’d rather they continue to live their lives and figure out who they want to be, not focus on my past. But it’s there if they want it.
My goal here and now is simply to make myself, my bits of memory from here or there, available to them, should they want to know more. It might be interesting at some point to compare these memories with those of my journals, to see if some of my current memories either correspond to, or deviate from what is written in the journals. Memory is a funny thing. Fluid, full of movement. It can change with time. And what we remember can be influenced by out state of mind at the moment. In that sense, these RAM posts, whenever I add them, will be truly random. I did write a few while internet was out, and will likely post them in here, but after the first few, it will simply come to the page as it comes to me, randomly.
I have no idea if I will stick with it or not. I don’t have a great record of sticking with any kinds of blog posts – though the writing challenges were pretty fun while I was doing them. Maybe I’ll do one of those now and then, too. Meanwhile for what it’s worth, and posts that begin with RAM will be just that – Randomly Accessed Memories. It will be interesting to see what I come up with. 🙂