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Stories are remembered more than people. That’s why you hear tales as old as time but not the people who wrote them. That’s why I remember the saying, but not the person who told it to me.

That’s why I can remember the stories my grandmother told me, but not her face. The smell of cinnamon and the warmth of her windowsill lay in the murky recesses of my mind, lost in a memory I can barely recall. Other recollections are in fragments, laying just below the surface. Trying to remember the flower design on Mamie’s teacups, or the name of her brown pooch, was like trying to catch fish with bare hands. You graze their whiskers but they always slip away, and you waddle to the banks with a frustrated huff, flip flops in one hand, disappointment in the other.

Her stories were the complete opposite. I could recite the hero’s journey like a poem, watch the story unfold perfectly like I was deconstructing an intricately designed box. When I retold her stories, I was sitting near the water, the fish writhing in a proud bucket.

Memories are strange in that way. Your subconscious picks and chooses what is important, shuffling through years and years worth of experiences. Some things stick to you, like the feeling of glue on your fingers when you had to make that collage in primary school. Others drop directly into the garbage chute, like what you had for dinner last night. Why was my grandmother’s weathered face deserving of the chute? How come I could fill in the gaps with much more ease and conjure the feeling of a river, the sensation of fins gliding past my hands?

It felt all kinds of hopeless in that way. Many trust their minds, their sanity. Me too, I had trusted my memories, my personality, my narrow understanding of the world. Until instances like these. It was almost like living in a home, furnishing its bare walls, painting the tiles, before realizing the shaky foundation made it all pointless. Frustrating.

Memories can change as easily as the tides. It’s as easy to influence them due to your opinions, the years that have passed. The changes of the present. The murky water that settles over them until your subconscious discards of it like trash. Like many other things in life, memories, moments, have no guarantee of permanence. Most likely, your story might be whispered, but your name will be long forgotten. Like mine. Like his, like hers, like theirs, like all that are breathing and laughing and crying in this brief moment in history.

If I told you that I found all of this a bit scary, I would be lying, because I find all of this terrifying. I think it took me a long time to realize that I couldn’t force myself to accept it. Human nature? My immaturity? Maybe both or neither, but I realized that this was nothing out of the ordinary.

We love to sort and categorize, to organize things to make it simpler for our brains to comprehend. We hate change, we fear change, but permanence has never been guaranteed.

Often in movies, we see the final kiss, a happily ever after where we can assume the couple lived until a ripe old age, surrounded by their grandchildren and comfort of their lover’s embrace. Other times, we see people intertwine, friendships blooming, laughs and inside jokes and shoulders for tears and smiles.

Often in real life, we have exes and the strangers we used to know. Often in real life, we have the people we avoid eye contact, the people we take a detour to not bump into. We have the people that have scarred, battered, hurt us, left us bitter, sweet, bittersweet. Nostalgic for a time we may never experience again. Longing for the moments we neglect.

Permanence was a lie. A thing we wish for, knowing it can’t be achieved. And for the times you wish for change, the moment it happens, you wish for the old days. You wish to crawl back into the comfort zone. Back to the warm windowsill, where I learned my stories while fingering through my grandmother’s pearls and tea sets.

That saying. Stories are remembered more than people. One day, it will be uttered for the last time, until it disappears like our names, like my grandmother’s face.

In my last moment of epiphany, I realized the saying itself was not true. Just like everything else, it will slither away into the murky river water, skate across flip flips and my grandmother’s teacups. It will curve around my windowsill, shoot past all the stories I didn’t find worthy to retell. On a hot summer’s day, it will swim away.

Author Notes: a little existential moment of mine, bear with me here

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20 Apr, 2022
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5.0 (2 reviews)

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