The places you’ve visited in the past are inseparable from you, even when your feet no longer stand where they once did. Whether we’re merely coasting through enjoying the view or consciously soaking things in, images get lodged under our skin. But still, when I look back at these photos I am asking myself in earnest whether they’re real memories, or only illustrations of good dreams I once had. Was I there? Did I see these things with my own eyes? Two years have passed now, and it is harder to tell the difference.
The sensation of time and memory slipping from your hands isn’t easy, and it hits hardest when I stumble upon old songs, pictures and often words, even. Portuguese verbs stop-and-search me to check that I’m still faithful and then shame me when they find out that I’m not practising them anymore. At those moments I only remember knowing – know that I once knew – while the meaning of a phrase is gone. It’s like dropping something small down a drain: whatever it is, it is retrievable, but only if you’re willing to go backwards, deconstructing everything all over again.
All the yellowing and fading at the edges means that memories are always asking to be fed. It’s intimidating – too bittersweet, apt to make you ache straight from the gut. But also fortifying. If you’ve ever lived a dream for which you worked so hard to materialise, then the recollection of that success is worth the pang you feel from having ‘woken up’. It’s just the price to be paid. And so I am regularly trying to recall where my feet have fallen, not to retrace those steps, but to regenerate faith – recycle it – for days to come.
The smile on your face as you remember what great things really did happen is just as important as the hope that more good will follow. Gratitude and hope are… identical twins?? I think there are moments when you can’t tell one from the other. They go hand in hand.