Photographs and Memories

People talk about dreaming in colour. I remember, sometime in college, realizing that I rarely dream in colour. Nor do I dream the way I had expected: as though I were watching a movie or walking through a day in my own life. I dream the way I think. I dream the way I write.

It’s almost like mind mapping – little isolated bubbles, some interconnected and some isolated until I seek out the connections and draw their secrets from them, so i can write about them. Some contain abstract concepts that somehow I grasp without pictures or words. Some contain images – snapshots of life that act like a shorthand code for moments I’ve lived, feelings I’ve had, things I’ve stored away because I wanted to come back and write about them.

The images of this week are plentiful and varied. A restaurant parking lot penned in by a ring of miniature dinosaurs of every sort. Flags over a military parade square, snapping crisply in the wind. Driving over a suspension bridge that reminded me a little of the Golden Gate, except that it was white. A giant disco ball hanging over a bistro terrace, a little-big girl after a day of adventure, dipping her fingers into a fountain and tracing little waves back and forth in the water below, completely self-absorbed and caring only for the feel of the cool water on her skin and the reflection of the sun from the surface of the pool.

Being roused from a nap by the pounding of the bass in the speakers under the armrest on the car door, looking over at my friend with her wild red hair and listening to her sing as she drove. Watching her bend her head towards her teacher’s, as he wove the history of a nation into a delightful soap opera that finally made sense after all these years. Spotting a single red hackle at the back of a platoon, and my heart leaping for joy when its owner spotted us as she rounded the square and broke into a huge but forbidden grin. A soldier in desert camouflage, pushing a baby stroller. A mother in forest camouflage, come to pick up her young cadet after camp and talking to her husband about her impending vacation. A little boy, decades before I was born, hiding under his bedsheets at night and turning the crank of a miniature movie projector. The same boy looking for his sister in chapel each morning so he could wave to her, and then suddenly seeing her no more.

I may only write about a half or a third of these moments, frozen forever in time. I may only write about a fourth or a tenth of them. But the snapshots are mine, as surely as if I had photographed them and placed them carefully in a scrapbook alongside the other mementos of the week, penning captions and dates to be sure nothing would be forgotten.

Is this an average writer’s mind? Is this how we all process the moments we live, the stories we hear and the ones we invent? Or is this something all of my own?

© 2010 Kyla Matton. Photograph of the Pierre Laporte Bridge by Qyd, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments! If you want to share this piece, please respect the copyright by quoting a brief excerpt and providing the permalink for this entry. Thanks!

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