Memories can be a tricky thing. We are so quick to decide what to pick and choose to keep and what to let go, but the brain doesn’t always allow you such kindness. We are cursed for forgetting the most important joyful little moments that shape us. We are cursed even more so for remembering the most important small tragedies that define us. I am personally cursed when it comes to memory.
My “mind palace” is far too wide, with too many corridors and no locked doors. There are a few poorly lit shelves here and there, but the pathway seems endless. Tracing back everything that has turned me into who I am sometimes feels like it did when I was a child and enjoyed keeping the television on while rewinding VHS tapes before returning them to the store – It was a chance to watch the movie again, even if reversed, making the best of my rental while speeding through my favourite scenes and my most hated ones.
36. Am I in love or do I just want to be a mom? Am I too old for this? At least my new job allows me to buy real estate, despite the fact that I cant afford anything else. My oldest friend tells me Im toxic and I agonize for weeks over that. She ghosts me. I am alone in the world.
35. Have I ever been more in love? My career gets back on track but a worldwide pandemic throws it off course.
34. I wish to die. The love of my life abandones me. It is not a surprise but it still send me over the edge. I do my will for the first time because all I want to do is die. I try to get my career back on track but all I find is dead ends. I adopt a new kitten so that I substitute suicide with taking care of him.
33. Every hour is a struggle. The night I confess to my oldest friend I have been contemplating suicide, she tells me to go to therapy. I see her only once more after that. My most loyal companions are my cat and bi-weekly video calls to London. I replace dinner with wine the other 5 days. I measure time in the daily decrease of sleeping pills on my night stand.
32. We don’t get married. We go out to dinner with the girls. We buy a bottle of wine on the way back and walk hand in hand through Central London before finding my favourite spot on the Southbank. We dance together to that Adele song we both like right there on the street under the moonlight like we did once before to the sound of a terrible Elvis wannabe street singer who could not seem to remember how to play a single song beginning to end. We promise each other this will the last time we say goodbye. We both know we are lying.
31. My oldest friend confesses my ex had affairs while we were still together and she had known ever since. I decide she has, in fact, picked a side and it wasn’t mine. This betrayal feels worse than the cheating. My father dies of stage 4 cancer 8 days after my birthday, 3 days after father’s day. Only 2 of my friends show up to the funeral. I don’t cry for 4 days. I replace meals with wine for 4 days. In the morning after a night I can not remember, I wake up in pain to find 20% of my upper body covered in 2nd degree burns. I leave work, family, pets and solitude behind and move to London for as long as my VISA will allow me. Life gets very near perfect for 5 months and 3 weeks. I have never been more in love. We decide to get married.
30. I go to London because of a boy. It doesn’t workout. I meet a boy online who lives in London. We spend 3 amazing weeks together knowing we have no future. I am told I was misdiagnosed and my problem isn’t depression, but BPD. I don’t tell anyone. My father is diagnosed with a benign tumor.
29. I become single for the first time in my entire adult life. He doesn’t. The people I have considered my family for the past decade pick his side, except for my oldest friend, who decides not to choose. I become lost with the notion of being alone. I replace living with drinking. Most of my nights become a blur. I meet a boy online who lives in London. My father finds a lump on his neck. The doctors tell us they don’t know what it is but they are sure it is not cancer.
28. I feel trapped but I’m too scared to do anything about it. I resign myself to drinking more so I don’t have to face reality. I barely even see the man I live with anymore.
27. My father calls me crying on a Wednesday night. He tells me he has read my book and has never been more proud of me. I cry.
26. I almost die on a surgical table. I write a zombie book. I try to end my unhappy relationship. He begs me to stay. I do. We go to the courthouse to sign our legal union certificate. His ID is too old and needs to be updated for us to do that. He never does it.
25. I decide to get a gastric bypass. My boyfriend gets one before me.
24. I look at my feet every time I walk past a mirror.
23. I cry every time I go into a dressing room, so I stop buying clothes.
22. I get my bachelor’s degree. It’s the happiest day of my life. My father tells me he thought I would never pull that off.
21. I gain 40 pounds. I try diets, exercising, doctors, amphetamines and nothing works. My father tells me I’m fat as a pig.
20: I win a free vacation to Canada, but I don’t want to spend the summer away from my boyfriend. My mother forces me to go anyway. I come back about 20 pounds heavier and my mother doesn’t recognize me when I get off the plane.
19. My mother and I travel together for the last time. We go to Amsterdam, which I loved, and London, which I hated. My boyfriend writes me a letter for each day I am away.
18. I go into my college admission exam very nervous. At the door, my mother tells me she does’t expect me to pass anyway. I leave the exam room once in its 4 hours to cry in the bathroom. I qualify as number 69 out of 13.000 candidates. My father cries. My mother complains about the tuition. I meet a new boy in class. He is an hour late to our first date, but he brings me yellow flowers and a single rose. In 2 days we make our relationship official. I have never been more in love.
17. I drop out of school to get a GED because I can’t stand the environment anymore. My mother cries a lot. I start dating a man 10 years older than me. My father tells me that my life is shit and it’s all my doing.
16. I go to Scandinavia with friends and meet my first love again. Nothing happens between us. My father loses his job. We have no savings. I flunk school and get held back. My mother cries. My father tells me I’m a piece of shit. My guidance counselour tells me that this happened because I am a slut. She tells my mother I can’t stay in that school if I don’t go to one of her approved psychologists who tells me I’m a slut but I have never mentioned anything sexual.
15. The boy I made out with tells people I gave him a blowjob at a school trip. The faculty spreads the rumour. My geography teacher tells me I’m a slut. I get so distressed I almost flunk. The principal tells me that if it had been up to him he would have held me back. My father tells me I can’t do shit right.
14. Half the boys in my class try to fuck me because I’m easy. None of them does. I try heavy alcohol for the first time. I drink an entire bottle of cachaça alone. I get into an alcoholic coma for 2 days. My mother cries. My father tells me I need to learn to hold my fucking liquor so no man can ever get me drunk against my will.
13. I lose my virginity to my first real boyfriend. My father threatens to chop off his dick. I tell my best friend just before math class. When the bell rings, the entire class already knows. By the end of the day I am the school slut. I get my first failing grade at an exam. My mom cries.
12. I get my first real kiss on halloween night during my boyfriend’s birthday party. I am dressed as cat woman. Our entire relationship lasts 15 days. I am diagnosed with manic depression and anxiety disorder.
11. My parents allow me to travel to Scandinavia with friends for a NGO. I fall in love for the first time with a Norwegian boy who’s just a bit shorter than me, eyes that are bluer in my memory than reality and curly white blonde hair. We kiss once on the lips. When I leave, I am sure my heart is broken.
10. My mother tries to hide my grandmother’s death from me but I find out when her friends show up at my door asking about the funeral. I hold her cold dead hands for the entire time I am there. I watch my mother light a cigarette every time she starts to cry. I try my first cigarette one afternoon when I want to cry after stealing it from my dad’s pack on the side table while he’s in the bathroom.
9. I get my first C. My mother cries and takes me to see a psychologist. She tells her I am simply bored. My mother is surprisingly proud of that.
8. My parents travel to Europe and I am very excited to spend the entire week with my grandmother. I sleep in her bed every night while she tells me stories of people who have died before my time.
7. My mother has me tryout for her dream private school. I place 2nd out of all the candidates. My mother can’t stop talking about my higher than average intelligence. I don’t understand why, but that already bothers me. I become a student at the private catholic school my mother has always dreamed of attending.
5. My mother tells me I’m getting a little brother. I wanted a kitten.
3. My parents move us to the little house we still live in. My father and his best friends do the entire move themselves. Takes all three of them to carry my brand new blood red big-girl bed frame to the second floor when my room still is.
2. I have chickenpox.
0. My parents are very excited about their first child together. They both hope for a boy. Girls are too complicated.