04 June 2010

Day 69: The Night Bus

The Night Bus by Janice Law.  ISBN: 9780312848828.

I almost hate books that include amnesia as a major plot point.  It's usually not interesting enough to keep my attention for more than 50 pages or so before a new gimmick has to be thrown in.  The Night Bus has only made it this far because I'm enjoying the lyrical prose and the detailed fragments of memory returning.

I think amnesia gets so much coverage because it's something we're all deeply afraid of.  No one wants to wake up one day and not remember who they are.  But strangely we sort of do that every day, in bits and pieces.  Our memories are in a constant process of deterioration, and then there are things that don't get remembered at all simply because your brain has no room for those details.  Hell, unless someone makes a comment about it, I couldn't even tell you what t-shirt I wore yesterday. 

I used to be deathly afraid of forgetting and losing memories.  I still don't like the idea of going senile or losing my mind to Alzheimer's disease, but I've come to terms with gradually losing bits and pieces of my past.  Maybe this is a sign of maturity.  I've basically realized that having those memories made fuzzy and dull is a good thing.  In some ways it makes them easier to learn from.  I can analyze my relationship with my ex-boyfriend, for instance, and see exactly what he did wrong and what I did wrong and what we probably should have done, and now I have the information for future relationships.  I no longer have to feel that same agony I had when we first broke up, because I no longer remember exactly how it felt to love him.  I know that he made me happy for awhile and I could tell you where I felt that stopped being true, but I don't feel it anymore.  The happy memories are also tainted with the not-so-happy memories, and then there are things about him I've forgotten altogether.

Forgetting isn't all good, of course, but I can see now how it is necessary for our emotional and psychological development and well being.  I don't think my brother and I would be talking now if I hadn't forgotten exactly how terrible it was living with him.  I know it was bad, but I don't relive every single detailed and terrifying moment.  But then I also can't remember what it was like to hold my grandfather's hand.  I don't remember bringing home Rocky, my first cat, from the neighbors' house.

I guess in the long run I'm okay with these losses.  The benefit of losing the bad sort of balances out the sadness of not remembering the good.  I just have to trust my brain to remember all of the good things I have yet to write down.

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