Another chapter has emerged, A Summer Bike Ride. How much simpler the writing is since I determined to write composite memories rather than trying to capture specific ones. Considering that about fifty years have passed since the days of which I write, most specific memories have dimmed anyway. Breaking loose from chronology and my timeline simplies matters immensely too.

This chapter was rewarding to write. I think I managed to capture the essence of the Los Alamos picnic ground in that era along with some insight into my thoughts as a young teen. It was also a good place to plant some description of my bedroom.

“What else can I put in here about my fascination with pine trees?” was a typical question as I wrote. I feel rather like a painter pondering where to put a spot of red to juice up a forest scene. I was able to tie in several mini-memories that wouldn’t rate a chapter of their own and more dialogue than I expected flowed in naturally.

Does it matter that this specific day is basically fiction? Not at all, at least to me. It is totally true to my memory of how things were, if not exactly what happened. I know that this day happened in a similar fashion several times, but don’t remember exact details of any individual one.

If anyone wants to bone up on how memory works, I highly recommend John Kotre’s classic volume, White Gloves: How We Create Ourselves Through Memory. It’s old enough that if you can’t get it at the library, it’s readily available used through Amazon.

Advertisements

Memories merge. This is not news to me, so I was not surprised to experience an example of the phenomenon this morning. As I looked out the window at light snow flurries, I recalled the joy of snow when I was young, and wrote about that in my journal. One detail I recalled was walking barefoot from the car into the Masonic Lodge when I attended meetings of Rainbow Girls on snowy nights.

That memory shifted my thread of thought to Rainbow Girls in general. I wrote that I had served in every station of the rainbow. I thought I had served in every non-elective office. But that didn’t make sense. I hadn’t belonged long enough. To solve this mental puzzle, I reached for a scrap of paper and jotted down a time-line, two slots per year. No way could I have filled all those offices!

Fortunately, although I made a huge error in tossing my Rainbow scrapbook a dozen years ago, assuming it no longer held any value since the likelihood any potential granddaughters would join was slim to none (oh, silly, silly me!), I do still have the charm bracelet that holds a charm for each office I held. I even know where it is. Sure enough, I only sat at three of the seven color stations: Love, Service and Religion.

The confusion arose because we received awards for memorizing portions of the Rainbow Ritual. The summer I was 15 my family took a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennesee. I passed many of the long hours in the car by memorizing the whole thing. Yes, I memorized every page of that small book. The book disappeared early on. Perhaps my mother tossed it, safeguarding the secrecy of the organization once I was no longer a member. (My mother did things like that, but that’s a story for another day.)

My puzzle was solved. The memory of memorizing all seven  two-minute talks blended with the memory of actually delivering them. The memory of retrieving the colors from the altar is more or less the same regardless of the color, so three is the same as seven.

Discrete memories had blurred together to form a complete picture with no gaps. Would it matter if I hadn’t discovered the error? Not substantially. The “game” would have played out the same one way or the other. In this case the discovery does little other than ensure historical accuracy in as many details as possible.

Historical accuracy is important to me in conveying the sense of place and events. Getting the details right satisfies my inherent desire for precision, but I won’t flog myself if I’m unable to verify some details.