I’m writing this on a plane. Greece is a gently rolling landscape beneath the clouds. The cat we were looking after was still purring when we clocked off, and the house was still standing – not even a broken plate to glue back together. Mission success, but already it’s just a memory – another page of history flapping in the slipstream. It felt like yesterday we landed here; I can still taste the first gyros. It was chicken. I wanted pork.
Funny how most of the things we did here will soon be forgotten, lost on the steaming, pulsating heap of other memories – scraps and old tins and strange bones sticking up from an ever distorting mountain of experiences.
Sometimes I stick my hand in the tottering jumble and pull out an old rag or rusted box – just to reminisce. Sometimes a memory breaks free of its own accord, making a clatter and drawing my attention as it spills down the hill. I often cringe at what I did, or said, or thought at the time. Like everyone else in the world I have a lot of regrets.
Regrets come in differing shapes and sizes. There’s regretting things that you’ve done, and there’s regretting things that you didn’t do, but also, and sometimes worse, there’s regretting things that you think you did, but you didn’t actually do at all. Punishing yourself for an action or conversation that you’ve convinced yourself happened but never did. The more you think, did I? The louder the crow, or the monkey, or the goblin shouts back. “Yes, of course, you did this. Remember, it was so fucking bad but you did it and now people are suffering.”
Or did Little One do this? Or say that? Or….
“Yes, Yan. Yes, she did, and much worse.” The more I try to remember if these memories are legitimate, the more, over time, I am convinced that they are. Could I have done something so spiteful? Did that person really say those awful words?
“Yes, yes, yes!” squawks Crow, spitting breakfast in my face.
A memory of something hurtful, or nasty, will introduce itself to me like a salesman at the door. Some are familiar faces selling the genuine article – I remember their patter, and eventually, after a lot of pushing and shoving, I send them on their way. Some, however, are ‘new’ memories from long ago that I have never thought worthy to dwell upon, or ever recalled before. At first I am dubious of their authenticity, and laugh them off, slamming the door in their smirking faces.
A little later the doorbell will ring again, and standing before me will be the same man in the same cheap suit, flashing those perfect ‘dazzling white’ teeth – the smile cutting his face in half.
The salesman dangles the fake Rolex before my eyes. This time my ninety-nine percent certainty that this is a forgery has slipped to below seventy-five. I push the door closed.
‘Ding dong!’ I’ll ignore him until he goes away.
‘Ding dong!’ He’s a persistent little fucker.
‘Ding dong! Ding dong! Ding dong!’ the doorbell chiming like a church bell striking a hundred o’clock.
I know I have OCD, I know that this is how the OCDemon attacks. But still, I can’t walk away.
I throw open the door…”Listen, friend. I’m not interested, I…”
He opens a suitcase of gold watches…Is that a Rolex?
It took me a long time to realise that one way to combat the rep at the door is to just buy everything that he is selling. “Here’s my credit card, I’ll have it all, and more if you’ve got it – I agree with you, Crow. I did do it; Little One did say that, and yes, probably much worse. “Yes,” I say, “and what the fuck are you going to do about it?”
It doesn’t always work but it’s better than hiding under the bedcovers, a quivering mess, hands covering my ears waiting for the doorbell battery to run out, or the salesman’s finger to fall off.
In a year or two, I wonder if the Crow will try and make me think something bad happened here in Greece. I already have a backpack full of false memories to suggest that he will. He will tell me something horrific occurred here, or something terrible was said, maybe only hinted at, but it will be enough to stir doubt into the pot, creating a spark in the dry bush that Crow will gently blow upon, feeding it fuel until a mighty inferno lashes at my door.
I cannot say what memories I will rely upon to be true in the future. That is why it is good for me to keep notes on this blog. So Yan, if you’re reading this for confirmation, its OK, Greece was good for you, and you didn’t kill the cat.