Saturday, November 15, 2014
what the brain wants
I have these fleeting images that flash over me occasionally. Not quite memories (for they never really happened), not quite déjà vu (for they never really didn’t happen), but an odd mix of time and place jumbled together with the memory of lives I lived only in my head, while immersed in the pages of a book. My own personal memories cobbled together with the storyline of some vaguely remembered novel.
They always take place – these pseudo memories - in the house of a barely remembered best friend that I had in grades two and three – the years we moved away to another city before returning to our old home in Winnipeg. I loved her house, a corner lot across from the river. A stately white two-storey in park-like surrounding, large comfortable rooms inside, peopled by a family who not only didn’t mind that I spent most of my days there, but welcomed this kid from the less-moneyed side of the Regina Avenue divide.
It was the polar opposite of the army house that we spent those two years in, cramped and stark and exactly like every other house on the street. It was in my friend’s graciously-appointed house - with the secret playroom cleverly built into the slope of the roof and accessed through the back of the closet in her sister’s bedroom – that I found a sanctuary for my daydreaming ways. All these years later, it’s where my mind still goes for highlight reels of great moments from my childhood.
Recently, since the sudden onset of winter, I have been getting these flashes that involve the simple act of re-reading a book. I see myself, on a similarly cold snowy day, curled up on one of the big armchairs that flanked the large multi-panelled living room windows in my friend's house overlooking the river. In that fantasy, I have hours of unscheduled time to read a P.D. James novel, whose title and even whose plot I have largely forgotten but which, at the time I actually read it, I subconsciously set in that very house. That much I remember of the book, not a lot more.
The imagination forms layers over layers of memory and memory of words. When I am stricken with that image, all I really want to do is read that book again in that very spot that I never actually read a book, but that somehow holds the memory of that storyline for me, along with the warmth of real memories.
What an odd place it can be, inside this brain.