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Nostalgia, Archives

February 24, 2013

Though I shed drafts and shred journals, though I delete missives unsent (when I have the foresight and willpower), though I resolutely keep so much from my own mind (when I do not have the foresight and willpower), there exists a lengthy and detailed record of my life and conversations, of even those lost or discarded parts and possibilities that no longer seem ever to have been my own, and it is more complete than what my conscious mind holds and perhaps even my unconscious.

I dreamed last night of forgetting and remembering a casual friend’s (imaginary) secret. She’d had a baby, years back within the dream, and I’d somehow missed this bit of information. Who had been taking care of the child those nights we met in bars? Where was the kid when I’d been to her apartment? Who was the father? Gradually it all started to seem familiar; perhaps I had known about the baby. . . no, wouldn’t I have a clearer memory of this?

Either she didn’t care enough (about me? or the child?) to tell me, or I didn’t care enough to keep track of it.

I was desperate to know which. Piecing together misremembered events has been a theme of my dreams lately; figuring out who cares less or more and why and what that means is an eternal daylight theme.

In the dream I typed my friend’s name and the word “baby” into Gmail’s search field, and began to scour the resultant messages to see if there’d been a formal or informal birth announcement.

At least once a week in waking life I search Gmail to confirm the details of my days. Sometimes it’s a neutral, factual matter: what day I submitted that 30-day-net invoice and when I can expect a check, or what year I adopted that cat and how old that makes him now. More often it’s social: what time I’m due for dinner with A, what it was that B had said about such-and-such, when it was that C and I were last in touch, just how long I’ve known D.

When I woke up I did the same thing. The dream itself didn’t seem to hold any important message from deep within my psyche—this isn’t a close friend, there’s nothing complicated between us, and, while she’s reached the age where childbearing becomes something of an urgent decision, I could think of a dozen single women this describes (but it’s not an issue with which I grapple). I expected or wished for some significance here, hating to see a dream go to waste; I half-hoped that searching Gmail would present some forgotten email that my unconscious recognized that I needed to read.

But was too much to read through (apparently I use the word “baby” too much, as almost none of these messages referred to actual infants): scores of email threads, some of them holding a dozen emails, and chat records, some of them up to a thousand lines long. Individually nothing seemed relevant to the dream but there were ample reminders of such things as how very often X and I once talked, that Y and I continually discuss making plans but rarely do so, that so-distant Z had years ago invited me to a party that I suddenly find myself regretting skipping.

Do we care, and why?

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