Hiro wrote this beautiful, captivating piece last week called Tsunamis in the House of Wholeness.
And while I was reading, something began tugging at my sleeve of my memory.
At first a vague pulling sensation. Resistance. Where?
There. She said December. She said the day after Christmas. But that’s not possible.
She sounds so sure. No. Impossible. There it is. Markers of time. Dates. Holidays. References.
I didn’t want to check. I couldn’t afford to be wrong. What does that even mean.
Still this slippery circling around. Something is not right something is not right something is not right. That voice that says stop the bus and get off.
So I stopped. What is the part that is wrong?
A logical statement, followed by a flood of scenes to back it up:
It can’t be December 26th because I left Tel Aviv and moved to Berlin the first week in January.
And far too many things happened between those two points to fit into a week.
Therefore, the tsunami must have been in October. Beginning of November, at the latest.
Of course, I am mistaken. At some deep, forgotten place inside of me I even know this. Something in my memory has crumbled.
But my memory is functioning, argues my memory: look at this rush of experiences I can display for you. Such crisp perfect images in the most specific order. Impeccable. So what could possibly be crumbling?
The defense rests.
You see, my memory explains, there is far too much here. Assemble it any way you like but you will agree that all this could not have happened in only one week. See the images. Hear the voices. Breathe in the smells.
I’m walking into the library.
Actually, I’m about to walk into the library when I see the piece of paper on the door. A death notice with its stark black edges.
I know the name but nothing about this situation makes sense.
The daughter of the librarian is dead at sea. That’s what it says: drowned in the sea. I know her. I didn’t know she was the librarian’s daughter though. She’s a close friend of my German friend.
Someone has to tell him. He’s traveling. Email.
How well do I speak German? Enough to get through a novel without a dictionary at my side. But I’d never had to say your friend is dead.
How to say it? Do you say passed away. Do you say gone. Do you say was killed. Do you say tsunami. Do you say I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.
My friend who is dead had a gig playing for the band of this guy I absolutely couldn’t stand.
He said, keep me company. And I said, I will always go to hear you play. Just don’t make me talk to X.
It was at the lesbian bar and I hadn’t been there in years — all my girlfriends had moved to Berlin and the owner didn’t even recognize me, that’s how long it had been.
I was wearing a red hoodie and I broke my year-long alcohol ban and drank whiskey. They were out of Jameson. I had Bushmills. Pouty.
See, my memory whispers, all the details are still here. Why would I be wrong.
Some girl came up and started kissing me, and I thought, things have really changed around here.
I turned away and bumped into the cousin of my ex. Literally. Bump. Because Israel is so completely tiny that things like this cannot not happen.
That’s all I remember. That, and all the talk about who was in Thailand and who wasn’t. And that it was the night I really, truly quit smoking. How do I know that? I just know.
One of the girls who studied with my teacher survived. Barely.
When she came back, Orna asked her to tell the story of how she was rescued.
She talked for half an hour. It was heartbreaking. Packed with impossible loss and impossible miracles.
I remember Sivan squeezing my hand. I remember how hard it was to breathe.
The thing I remember most though was her long skirt.
She’d gone religious since she came back.
This wasn’t new, of course. Every Sunday night you’d see more girls in long skirts but that was when things turned. I knew it was time to leave. Whatever was going to happen to me couldn’t happen here.
And then, impossibly, laughter.
Leaving Sigal’s house after yoga. Dark. Digging in my pocket to answer the phone.
The owner of the bar had killed himself.
The bar where I had once put in ten hour days five days a week for two years. And there was some kind of impromptu wake happening at the Czech pub and did I want to go.
I didn’t but I was two blocks away.
All the waitresses were there. Plus the Romanian cook, the Russian dish washer and the Nigerian.
And everyone had a story. None of the stories were very nice, of course, because this guy had been the bastard of all bastards.
For hours we exchanged vignettes about the various ways he had cheated, screwed us over, charmed us out of things and into other things. Oh, that time I almost had to go to jail for him!
But somehow without bitterness. We laughed. Ruefully, yes. We mourned the money he owed us that we would never see. But with oddly genuine affection for someone we’d all deeply hated at one time or another.
A few weeks later, I discovered we’d mourned too soon.
He wasn’t dead. He’d gotten into trouble with the grey market, the black market, owed money all over town. This part wasn’t news.
The suicide had been faked. His son had discovered him. They put him in a mental care facility for observation, which put him temporarily out of the sights of all the people who were after him. And then at night he broke out.
Left the country. Flew to New York. With three million shekels. Of other people’s money.
I dropped in on the owner of the bar down the street to get the full story.
Which turned out to be the right thing, because guess who was the last one to have seen him.
And the more he tells me, the harder I laugh.
It’s all appalling. It’s all inappropriate. It’s all tragic. Tragic in a tiny way. Not like the tragedy of the people being rescued. Not like the tragedy of the people who didn’t get rescued.
A lowercase tragedy. And I just need to laugh.
What’s he going to do in New York with all that money, I ask, gasping for breath.
He’s already had two heart attacks. And heart surgery. He has asthma. He smokes two packs a day. His lungs are shot. As is his liver. He’s a raging alcoholic who puts absinthe in his morning coffee.
Also, he has cancer of the stomach. And he’s wanted by the mafia.
Things are not really looking his way. From the distance of five and a half years later, it’s hard for me to remember how this was funny. But there I am, perched on the bar stool, laughing until I cry.
Worlds are crumbling.
Hiro is right. End of December.
And now I have weeks and weeks of memories that don’t fit anywhere.
Do you already know what I uncovered? First: I didn’t actually go to Berlin the first week in January.
It was five weeks later. I don’t remember delaying the trip. I don’t know why I delayed.
But there were five weeks of transition that I then erased. Not the memories. Just the when. Something about this felt so … familiar.
It turns out that erasing transitions is what I do.
I had been so sure about moving to Berlin right after the yoga teacher training.
Such a big, symbolic move. After ten years. And this whole time I’ve had the wrong information about when it happened.
I had to play the tapes. Investigate the stories. Find other parts of my narrative that include the formula “as soon as X happened, Y came immediately after that”.
And all of my transitions have false fronts. Trap doors to hidden passages.
There are six, eight, ten week gaps in places where I would have sworn to not more than two.
I have deleted the transitions of my complicated stories, leaving only abrupt edges. Creating a protagonist who can move from one thing to another thing without ever really going through.
The voice knows, though.
The one that used to tell me to get off the bus in a country where exploding buses were closer to the norm than one would like.
The one that says stop. The one that says ask.
The hum of intuition that shadows the shivanautical epiphanies. Even when I cannot trust my own history, it will lead me to the seams.
Comment zen for today …
This is a place where we make room for people to have their own experiences. And to maintain the kind of safety that allows for shared stories, we give each other love and we don’t give advice.
It’s not yet past midnight where you are, but it is here. That’s the time when histories comes out, draped in memory like togas and wearing wreaths of forgotten moments on their heads, and dance in the shadows when our attention falters.
This is an astonishingly powerful story. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to write something like this. I’m proud to know you, however distantly, for being so brave, and honored to have been allowed to read it.
Mine are there in the shadows, though, dancing. I wonder which will get closest to the light tonight.
.-= Chris Anthony´s last post … Blogging survey! =-.
Somehow, one of Fabeku’s songs is the perfect backdrop for this post, but it was just what iTunes served up in the moment, falsified electronic intention.
And now we segue into “Purpose” from Avenue Q, and I can’t help but laugh.
It’s a wry laughter, that wonders about all the edges memory has shifted and sharpened and softened and hidden. I know that I misremember, that some things are just gone in a fog of long-ago, but I rarely take a moment to mourn them except in the absentminded “I forgot my keys,” or “Oh man, will the client forgive me for forgetting this deadline,” kind of way.
So today out of all of the fog of memory, I’m going to pull my purpose. I straighten my crown and I dig my heels in against the advice that I have to be a leader or be an expert or be a linchpin or be whatever it is that fits into their formula of success, and say that’s not my purpose.
I’m here to make art.
.-= Amy Crook´s last post … Cartoon! Wendy & Me =-.
I’m fascinated by this post. Thanks for sharing your tales, further glimpses into the life that is Havi’s. (Course now, I want to know more 😉
When I was young, my memory was infallible. No one in my immediate family could argue with me over past details because I could recount our conversations verbatim.
But now? “Do you remember when we went to…?” …No.
And a number of things my parents say now are not what they told me back in the day. They deny that their stories have changed, but I still trust my memory that much. Which makes it confusing. Which family history is correct? The old or new versions? It has been posited that perhaps someone was joking with/teasing me back in the day which is kind of horrible because I clearly completely missed it, if that was the case.
My grandparents each died in a different season when I was a sophomore or in my 2nd year of a transition. I would have told you this for over a decade with certainty. Sophomore high school, sophomore college, 2nd/final year grad school, 2nd year in LA: all in row spanning 10 years.
Except… During a free write in the daily writing journal we each kept for Mrs. Vincent’s English class, I wrote about the spring dance coming up soon after my grandfather’s death and wondered if it was weird to want to go still. We handed our journals in after each day and she would write back. Mrs. Vincent is a lovely compassionate person and an excellent 9th grade English teacher (well, until she retired last year). See the problem?
Yeah, 9th grade. Not a sophomore. The rest were soph/2nd years though. My brain likes patterns and numbers. Even if it has to force them a bit to fit apparently.
.-= claire´s last post … Sketchbook, page 33 =-.
I read Hiro’s post and I thought it was amazing and much needed. I read here too and felt the same. But I avoided a great deal. Because some stuff is just too huge, too overwhelming, too much.
I don’t know how I can serve myself and the spirit of Goddess Create if I remember and absorb the details of pain, shock, trauma. And other people’s huge pains trigger my own. Whilst my stuff’s not bigger than anybody else’s, maybe it’s less. But the thing is – I love that this post is here, that this community is here. But I say to myself that it’s okay. Some loss I don’t want to dip in to and some shit I just don’t want to remember. I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I don’t have to. I don’t need to be so good that I am weakened by an openness to all this pain. Not yet. Maybe never.
I have to hope that we can grow, share, inpsire, create magic without being someone who can embrace and acknowledge all the world’s pain. I want to be in a bubble for a bit. Maybe I ask too much like a child. A wish to return to the relative safety of the womb. Womb like.
Wibble wobble wibble.
Sending hugs to you if they are needed.
.-= Leila Lloyd-Evelyn´s last post … How authentic is your voice? What character traits & passion do you squash, sit on & crush? =-.
I’ve got the other problem – I remember things crispy clear that never happened – at least so people assure me. But usually it’s stuff about how those persons hurt me, and well, there’s reason for them to forget it. ‘coz if you think it never happened, you do not need to apologize, right?
And it’s kind of mean, I think. There’s stuff I’d like to TALK about, because it’s not taken care of yet, but I can’t talk, because those people see that as an attack. I know it happened, they know it did not, whom shall I believe?
.-= Carina´s last post … The long Grind: Week Thirteen =-.
I understand this. I know this. Like the time between me visiting my dad in the hospital in Madrid and being told I could go back home because he was getting out and he’d be ok…. and when he died. Betrayal. It was that temp job that I couldn’t make myself care about with all those nice people that I couldn’t connect to. ANd I feel like it was a long time between the two events but it really couldn’t have been. Was it 3 weeks? Was it 5? I have no idea. I thought it was one and then I realized it was the other and now I just don’t think about it.
.-= Serena´s last post … Epiphanies about epiphanies =-.
Your discovery of missing memories is something my roommate has described as happening to him many times, usually relating to a very traumatic childhood. Realizing he has these gaps in his memory causes him alot of stress, as it appears to have caused you stress.
I’m going to share this post with him, though he already reads FS, in hopes that it will perhaps help him gain some perspective.
If you have any epiphanies, Shivanautical or otherwise, regarding how you deal with what these revelations have brought up in your life, could you share them with us? They would really help!
In the meantime, though, care for yourself. 🙂
I was drawn to Hiro’s post because and now yours in response.
I meant to say… I was drawn to Hiro’s post BECAUSE she told a story that came from her mysteriously. I love it that she’s started something as now you have found a story that needed to be told. How many stories do we contain?
A few more things:
I am intrigued by instinct and I think that all those stories we have, unknowingly create patterns and frames for how we experience life. Subtle shifts make us perk up and take note. We call it instinct but it’s perhaps being alert to what we know and what we do not know. How the present moment fits the patterns of the past.
The idea of seeing our transitions as gaps in time was an epiphany for me. I need to be more in the transitions as I GO through discomfort and change.
“Algo no esta bien algo no esta bien algo no esta bien”
That’s all I’m hearing in my head as I read this post. Somenthing isn’t right.
I’m with my husband and our 2 years old boy. His israeli family invites us to drink coffee at the beach. The restaurants are packed. Just a regular day in Tel Aviv. Good music, good food, lots of beautiful people.
War jets crossing the sky on their way to Lebanon. And we’re there, trying to go on with our vacation…drinking coffee…in the middle of war…
I just want to go home. Everybody is having fun with me, the foreigner, who’s so nervous that can’t even breath properly.
“That’s the story of my live, motek”, my husband says.
Yeah, tell me all about it, I want to know it all….back home.
Thanks for sharing this with us.
.-= carolina´s last post … Carta a 30 de mis libras =-.
Very brave post. And very wonderful. I can´t tell you how much I know exactly what you mean. With the memories, and the spaces, and the un-memoires and the me shaped holes in the world of places where I swear I was when that thing happened, I´m absolutely certain . . . except that I´m not . . .certain . . .about anything in this moment suddenly . . .
until I find a way to take a moment and get off the bus . . .
Confession: I laughed at the inappropriate laughter bit.
Missing memories….I didn’t know that I even had missing memories about something until recently when I was ‘filled in’ by someone. *shudder*
The other day I was trying to work out a time sequence for something that happened only 3 years ago, and about three months of my life seem to have congealed. Weird.
Thanks for this Havi-
Funny how posts and conversations, and little bits and pieces sometimes just gel together…
Just had some memories jarred loose yesterday when talking to my sister about something — she said “oh, yeah, that was the Christmas when…” and related something pretty dysfunctional that I had *completely* wiped, with the exception of remembering that other people had talked about it, and even that was buried.
And I’m *doing* group therapy regarding this particular dysfunction of my family– and *working* on recalling stuff– and this (obvious and not-all-that traumatic (or is it? sigh.), but certainly worthy of “Exhibit C.” in an accounting and figuring out of where some of the scrambling has come from)
… this never was recalled, until my sister said it…
then I shelved it completely again.
Today, thinking about all my scrambling with relationships, and trying to let go of betrayal, and let go of anger, and let go the ‘niceness that comes with trying to be nice about betrayal since you really ought to let go of that anger’
And since my little voice has said, ‘y’know, you don’t need to know all the answers right now, but I bet doing some yoga would help some’ in reply to me thinking and worrying, and being angry and frustrated, and confused and feeling directionless type monstery thinking…
I think I am going to believe my little voice and fire up the old DVD player in the middle of the day, 🙂
oh and such a quote that totally made me think of you the other day… “Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” Joseph Campbell
I had a similar wait…what? reaction when I read Hiro and “the day after Christmas”.
I was laying in bed, early morning, with NPR playing. The newscaster begins the horrible news and I listen for…10? 20 minutes? And then I slam it off, roll over and snuggle my darling (new!) husband and think that I don’t want to think about such horrible things.
I remember it being cold outside the bed. But the day after Christmas? Why weren’t we at someone else’s house? Why weren’t we in another state?
When I went back and looked at it, I remembered all sorts of family drama and avoidance and ickyness surrounding that holiday week. A family-drama I completely dismissed. A day I completely wiped.
And not even from tragedy or death or anything. Just the tiny little hurt feelings that makes my mind skip over the facts in favor of remembering the warm bed and the cold floor.
.-= Tara´s last post … Milking Goats, Falling Down and Offering a Hand =-.
I wish I had something more profound to leave in this space: I don’t. All I have to say is that this is the kind of beautiful truth that doesn’t exist anymore except in those small spaces in between at odd hours when we let our guard down, and I admire that greatly.
Thank you for sharing this beauty with the rest of us; we’re all better off for it.
.-= Holly´s last post … Morality in Marketing: Where Do You Draw the Line? =-.
I have no experience to share, here, but thank you for sharing yours with us.
whoa. Havi, though you know I’m here reading off and on, I haven’t MET you so I obviously can’t “love” you, but that’s the feeling I had after reading this. Real hearts.
I hope you never stop writing!
I know exactly what you mean about memory. As time passes, events seem to shift and change places. Sometimes it’s fun to compare memories with the people who were with us at the time; often they remember things differently or color in forgotten details.
.-= Terry´s last post … Hooked up after the breakup =-.
Hearts and Love
I am deeply touched by this post, and by the comments left here as well.
I’ll share a story of my own, for whatever it’s worth:
In the fall of 2006, I moved with my family from New Jersey to West Virginia. This was a fast transition, roller-coaster fast: one of my partners was laid off in July; he was job-hunting in August; we were house-hunting in September; we were packing in October; we moved at the beginning of November. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam.
Through it all, I was a rock. I supported the people around me. I made phone calls. I made decisions, so many decisions. I was soothing. I was stable.
Then, shortly after we moved…something happened. I try to grasp the memory, which hangs just beyond my reach.
It was a Saturday morning. The four of us were in the car. I think we were going to the local diner for brunch. There may have been an umpteenth trip to Home Depot on the agenda, as well.
I said something — what was it? — something bright and hopeful and self-confident. And I was shot down. One of my partners said something snarky, and they all laughed. And, yes, I crumbled.
But what was it? What was I talking about? What did they really say to me? I can’t remember.
And if I can’t remember, what makes me so sure that it ever really happened at all?
And when I fell apart for a while over the next few months, not finding work, not progressing in my doctoral studies, spending half of my time wallowing in shadow comforts and the other half frantically trying to be good enough to ensure that my family, now the only people I saw daily who loved me, would continue to love me — can I really be so sure that this was all triggered by that one searing moment of snark?
And why can I only remember the music of the event, so to speak, and not the words?
No one else even remembers the music. No one else remembers this occurrence at all. It exists only in my head, and even there, it’s as insubstantial as a nightmare. But it happened. I know it did.
I’ve done a lot of work, and come a long way, since then — but without the clarity of memory, can I ever heal completely?
I want the answer to be yes. I don’t know how, but I want to believe that I don’t need to know how.
Whew. I had no idea I was going to go on for quite this long. Thank you, Havi, for creating the safety in which stories such as these can be shared.
.-= Kathleen Avins´s last post … All you need is love. Thank goodness for that. =-.
Sobbing reading this.
I am so embarrassed when I realise how unsure I am of the chronology of my life.
We’re moving out of Singapore in a couple of months and is it four years or five? I don’t know.
How long did I live in London? In the shared gay apartment with the wooden floors and things on plinths? And with Maria from New York who I almost Visa-married?
How long was did I do the stock system job? And when did I work on the helpdesk?
How long was it between meeting S and moving in together and the awful next nine months?
It’s all a blur.
Last year (was it really?) I had to create a CV for the first time in 10 years (or is it 8?) and I just had to guess at dates, to make a story, because I just don’t KNOW.
And then there was the night in my childhood when my Mum had locked the door and was screaming at my Dad and I think ‘Where did he SLEEP that night’ and when I ask my Mum when that was, she says that wasn’t one night, that was so MANY nights, most nights…
I don’t even remember how many times I’ve been to Bali to train with my teacher…
And when did we get married? What year?
I get dizzy reading your post. That feeling of *knowing* but not knowing… Slipping. Sliding.
.-= Andrew Lightheart´s last post … How to worry less =-.
The day my husband died, I suddenly realized that it had been exactly 9 months earlier that I had experienced a moment when I “observed/felt” him say to himself–“I don’t have to do this anymore”–and I began sharing the story that his “dying” proess had really been a “pregnancy” into his new state of being…..complete with 3 separate “trimesters”/phases in the process.
It wasn’t until shortly before the 5th anniversary of his death that I suddenly discovered that my math had been wrong!! His “pregnant death” had lasted TEN months (exactly!)
Have still not “figured out” the impact on my “meaning-making” process……perhaps there is none, and perhaps everything…..
Oh ohhh… My heart just sighed so bigly. There’s a bit of a catch on the other end of it, a tug, a lump in the throat, a bittersweet achey place of knowing…That’s the best I can do to give it words. That and, I love your heart.
.-= Heidi Fischbach (@curiousHeidiHi)´s last post … Was that my breast you just called ‘pretty’? =-.
Wow. Just … wow. Thank you for sharing this.
.-= Luke´s last post … Ighalsk – release 0.1.15 =-.
Thank you, Havi, and thank you to all who have shared in the comments. And thank you to everyone for keeping this space so beautifully.
.-= Shannon Henry´s last post … Hopping off to the Art Hop! =-.
Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us, and for telling us about Hiro’s post! I was left without words.
Love love love. For everyone. Except maybe for you ex-boss.
.-= Natalia´s last post … ‘I could feel the words bubbling up inside me’ =-.
Very powerful. As ever, thank you so much for sharing your truth.
Thanks Havi for sharing something so personal. Beautiful.
I’ve had those weird ‘too much is going on, it can’t possibly have happened in such a short period of time’ moments. They can really mess with you when you look back and try to process everything.
.-= Katy ´s last post … Toot Your Own Horn! =-.