My earliest memories make no logical sense, one moment I’m standing in a field of sugarcane, the next moment I’m with a flock of ladies in a churchyard, in another moment I‘m running up the front steps of home. The green cane stalks loom above me in my toddler height, bowing in the wind as I run along the soft overturned earth between the rows. I don’t remember where I was going or why, only that I was scared of getting lost. The church ladies form a noisy ring of chatter, I don’t know how I got there, I look for my mother among them. I think I spot her, clutch at her skirts, but to my horror it’s a stranger who schrieks with surprised laughter startling me to tears. These memories are more sensations than stories. I know the smells and tastes of tropical fruits plucked directly from their trees, the scent and feel of different kinds of dirt, the rhythmic sounds of frogs, mosquitoes and crickets, the torrential summer rains that were refreshing showers of sweet water.

 

The more the time passes, the more the tedious or routine tasks that make up most of it disappear. And with them, the minutiae, the details of locations, the names of acquaintances, the countless actions, steps and drives connecting each and every moment. Conversely, certain experiences swell up with importance as you circle around them again and again, recollecting, reminiscing, ultimately, rewriting them in the stone of your mind, or more like the slate, or more like the sands. Though it isn’t blank, not enough to keep the memories unaltered, neither whole, nor fixed.F640AE73-7B24-431B-A443-E2C5667382BD8B492955-095B-4712-AE70-75852066D389

I used to fear the passage of time. I tried to hold on to many things. Even though I have a fairly good memory, I use to worry about forgetting. I kept boxes of mementos and wrote details in a journal. Old friends, new loves, dates, anniversaries, moments of wonder and joy that I believed were perfection, or the closest I would ever get. But I didn’t—couldn’t reckon with the grand scheme and scale of my own life, how first loves would fade to truer ones, how superficial relationships would become meaningless flotsam to deeper ones, how my best expectations were often far exceeded, though there were some profound disappointments too. Replacing that old anxiety is the sense that I haven’t seen it all, that I do not know it all, no matter how long I’ve lived, and a peculiar, recurring question: What will I remember of this time?

 

There is the stream of current events recorded in histories, official and unofficial, these are useful reminders, framing personal recollections within time and place. But as time passes, dates become more irrelevant and the senses takeover. Like my early childhood memories, all the winters, all the summers seem to flow into their separate pools of corresponding sensations, steadily and surely. 

I wonder what will be remembered of the summer of 2018. This summer feels different from all the other summers. For one thing, it started two months earlier than usual. The forests have grown so dense, every leaf broader and bigger than any year I knew before, the green overflowing from the canopies, spilling out in vines, weeds pushing up through the sidewalk cracks. The insects are different too, instead of the usual fruit flies, clusters of tiny grey moths appear relentlessly in every cupboard and corner. Will I remember this as the summer of the moth? The longest, hottest summer? The first time we visited Croatia? Or the first school year for my daughter?4A952B16-0095-4AAF-A836-B1FB2BA83AFB

I can‘t say that I always actively choose what to remember because I don’t know what will take precedence later. I don‘t know the greater scheme that appears only after years, after decades. I hope that I will not try to hold on to the past. Although I will always cherish the memories. They will become unanchored, unencumbered by logic, yet filled with emotion, retained and relived with the senses.

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Text and pictures by M.P. Baecker.

31 thoughts on “Lasting Summer

  1. beautifully written (no surprise there). I’ve often marveled at two things. What memories will I retain, and what will trigger them later in life. A smell, a picture, a song, a perfume or a tragedy. I’ve come to enjoy the randomness of it all. Knowing all the time that as I get older, memories will sustain me

    Liked by 2 people

    • 😊Thanks so much! It’s so beautiful the way you put it! I think that’s such a great thing about having so many different experiences, you’ll have rich memories to savor later or for more reflective times. I think I’ve been lately a mixture of both, activity and reflection, my theory is it works better to intersperse them to make the memories keener than one big lump…only time will tell😄

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We have almost the same relationship with our memories, right down to the memory boxes and the journaling. But at 62, I’m still doing that stuff. I seem always to have had a fear that my past was better than my future would be. That moment has not yet come to me, but it will; it comes to all of us.

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    • I really admire people who can write in a journal consistently! A perfect time portal for future generations! Mine have always been done in fits and bursts, which led me to collect mementos instead, but I realized that objects are far less reliable than keeping a journal. It’s truly the thoughts that count. I love your last line, I wonder when that will happen to me as well, when I’d only want to look back instead of forward. But I would try to hold it off as long as possible 😄.

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  3. I have been blogging about my life and feelings pretty consistently for the past year, and if there’s anything I can say about it, it’s that it’s preserved a flood of memories that I know would’ve been lost otherwise. I wish I did it 10 or 15 years ago, but I do have my journals from that time which I was looking at when I was in Florida. In fact, my next blog was going to be about one of those journals, and memories, etc. I think you and I are tapped into the same literary god. 🙂

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    • Oh I can’t wait to read about your journals!! I’m pretty sure you are me as a man because our lives and perspectives have so many parallels, not to mention we share the same initials! Whatever literary God it is has a thing for duality, symmetry and contrast!!! All these things are also my guiding artistic principles! It means A LOT to me that you would think that we share this inspiration because I’m a big fan of your work! You are extremely talented!!!

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  4. “I wonder what will be remembered of the summer of 2018.”

    What a lovely way to look at life! It had my mind wandering down the corridors of time, trying to pick a thing to remember a season, and you’re right. It’s more difficult than we think, because time changes the importance of events and eras. The Summer of 17 is easily remembered, right now, for the trip to Vegas to renew our vows with all our peeps. Hard to say anything will supplant that event, in time. But this year? I turned 50, that could be the memory that stays with me. But that happened and there’s still so much more summer to go. So many things happening and set to happen, still. And then what will the Fall bring? What is the memory of the Spring just passed? I cannot faithfully answer such questions just yet. But you have me thinking, and that is what it is all about!

    Thank you, sister! Fine, fine work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beautiful comment Tom! Those are indeed lovely memories AND great milestones that you mentioned brother!!! 👏👏👏👏

      I remember my big milestones too, they’ll always hold a special place in my heart! It’s funny the specific things you remember of your wedding day, I remember the napkins were folded wrong in my reception 😂 and of course, the most beautiful moment at the altar, my husband would remember that too but not the napkins! Mrs. C. might remember some different details than you. It’s so fun to compare memories like this!

      It always nags on me a little bit how strange my earliest memories are, I must have started remembering at age 2 or 3. I am surrounded by very sensible people who tell me that is unlikely, but how do I explain knowing the taste of a certain baby food or all these memories I have? No one could have possibly told me about them. I am not a very spiritual or esoteric person and I have a deep respect for logic and explanations, but both the patchiness and starting clarity of these memories speaks of something bigger, perhaps a grand pattern to life, perhaps a blip in the matrix 😜, perhaps finally an explanation for dark matter in the universe, I don’t know! But it’s wondrous!

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      • I think it’s quite simple: although most small children have not developed the complex neural network necessary for memory preservation, some have. There are exceptions to every rule and you, my dear, prove to be an exception to most. Your brain developed earlier.

        This would explain that and so much more. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • 😊😊goodness! The simplest explanation is the best!!! But I really don’t think I’m anything special, I can imagine a lot of people thinking they must have remembered it wrong and/or not talking about because they don’t want to seem crazy! Unlike me who has no problem with crazy at this point in my life 😄!💐🤗

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! What a beautiful comment!! I love that: “our desire to sometimes pause or freeze it”. Maybe our souls are used to existing outside time and space? What else could explain our intense desire to stop time or keep it on repeat?! 😄

      Like

  5. That is a powerful and metaphysical account of experiences you have gone through. The glimpses of childhood retained by your mind are infectious. It transcended me to my own younger days momentarily, completely. Perhaps the most potent sensory experiences serve as digits that unlock the chain of sequences to our brains. Perhaps that is how our memories live, change, swell and diminish. Great photos, as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks (always) for your absolutely beautiful comment! I can’t get over what you said about “unlocking the chain of sequences” that’s so brilliant!!!

      I went back to my childhood home after 13 years (I was 4 when I left) and realized that I knew what every fruit and traditional food would taste like even before I tasted it! Even if i didn’t know the names and hadn’t eaten it in 13 years! The senses are stronger than the consciousness! So I think you’re right about the code!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Absolutely lovely post MP. You capture the aging memory process so well! I am trying as I age to make a concerted effort to push out those memories I used to focus on that don’t bring me joy or lightness of being. I am trying to consciously make new memories that bring joy to my present.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much!! You took the words right out of my mouth!!! I couldn’t agree with you more! I have the same issue in focusing on certain (negative) memories and not on more joyful ones! Or most importantly, creating new joyful ones!
      It takes effort to redirect and reorient yourself, but it’s well worth it my friend!! I am working on it too! I feel stronger and more energized the more effort I put into it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You and I do that don’t we?! It’s wonderful to know we aren’t alone with these sorts of growth processes! There is a process my therapist actually used with me to help me with negative emotions/memories called Remap. It’s a therapy to actually remap your brain patterns. It was a very powerful experience for me – about blew the doors off of her office when we did it! To find out the grief I felt about losing my dog and fear of weather all tied a core of abandonment issues! Here is link if you are curious to find out more about it: http://remapinstitute.org/general-information/what-is-remap/ – good to hear from you MP – again, fantastic post!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much!! I am so happy that it touched you! I first thought to express this sense of Time passing as an ocean or wave metaphor, but I had done that so often before (I swear I must be a fish!) in my other writing. I am glad I focused on summer instead. I really cherish memories, they are so fragile. But I also don’t want to become ensnared in them, constantly reliving them and not making any new ones. Yet there‘s nothing better than a memory that enhances the present!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Great post and photos. I too hang on to mementos, diaries etc. And at some point I realize the things I kept as if they were sacred mean next to nothing, because truer relationships have replaced the old ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks very much! I did the same thing too, I have a just one box now, but I used to keep so much more! I actually ended up throwing most of it away, because as you said, they became meaningless compared to other relationships. I actually peeked into one box from 2007(!) and I no longer remembered why I kept 99% of the things! I saw such things as a flag and a one dollar bill in it, why I kept them I have no idea 😂!

      Liked by 1 person

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