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Every year, on January 2, I unwittingly think about a girl I went to middle school with whose birthday fell on that date. Her name was Rebecca. I don’t know that I would have called her a friend, even then; I don’t remember ever spending time with her outside of school and assume that I knew her birthday because of some class celebration. I have absolutely no idea what happened in her life, and really I had absolutely no idea what was happening in her life then. She is permanently stuck in a black-and-white yearbook portrait I can somewhat muster. 

Still, inevitably, the calendar turns to January 2, and I think of her.

Memory is a strange, faulty thing; it shouldn’t be trusted or very closely examined. And yet – so often – it’s what we’ve got. I’m often surprised by what I hold on to, those places or moments I return to without effort: a random night on a rooftop in Brooklyn; the view of my bedroom several apartments ago where I used to lay down to do crunches; the thrift store in Austin where I once bought a pair of earrings. 

Who can even guess at why we remember the things that we do. Who can imagine what we lose, for the space taken up by things such as a long-ago person’s birthday. 

I hope that, in the future, I remember things from this holiday. Like how I sat alone in my living room for a quiet few moments on Christmas morning, gazing at the tree. Or how my son delighted when he realized that the lights on the house existed. I hope I remember how we went to the coffee shop on the water one morning and watched a seal swim under the dock where we stood. And a walk we took out to the ocean with my child’s godmother, and strapping my son into his bike seat for his first ride, and my first time playing frisbee golf. Maybe I’ll remember a particular conversation I had with my love, curled on the couch together, when we talked about the future and gave ourselves time to dream. 

Yes, I think to myself, I’d like to remember all of that. But probably, I’ll remember some random stroll down a grocery store aisle or how it felt to reach into the clothes washer for the thousandth time in four days. That’s likely to be the view that comes to mind many years from now. It is, after all, what makes a life. 

Sigh. 

Happy new year, friends. May the memories of your life inspire you to go out and do remarkable things. And happy birthday to a woman named Rebecca, wherever and whomever she may now be. 

One comment on “1: January 2, 2023

  1. buddy71 says:

    christmas is the day i have the most memories of. some good, but mostly they are bad. funny how memories are. they can be a blessing or a curse.

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