I am always, incredibly, preoccupied with trying to remember everything.
I have journals dating back to the start of 2014. I have an entry for every day since that beginning. Each entry details my favourite things that happened that day, as well as a rating of the day out of 5. When I’m too busy to write in my journal at the end of the day and have to wait until tomorrow, I start to feel a little stressed, because some part of me is scared that I’m going to forget everything. I look back at the things that happened on the same day, one year ago, three years ago, five years ago. It is strange because I only write down my favourite things, and so everything is automatically romanticised. The only hint of something beyond this are roughly drawn stars, some not even close to 5, that remind me that there are many things unwritten. And when I look back, I feel this great bittersweet every time I do so. But also a great relief, that the memory is still there. And I feel like my memory is actually better because of how I write all those moments down.
I have notes on my phone dating back to 2013. Little one-liners and images that I turn into poetry and stories. Making the story is like remaking a memory too, turning it into an art that other people can experience as well. That is another way I remember.
Whenever I go to a place that I’ve been before, I think of myself the last time I went there, and all the other times before that, and I think of how much I’ve changed since those times. I love landscapes where I can pick out all the places that I’ve been. I try to walk up Mt Victoria once a week, and when I do, I look for my current home as well as old homes that I used to live in. And every time I walk up there, I also take a picture of the same view. Add it to the collection and see small changes–bluer skies in summer, that time I walked up in the fog, or just before sunset, or a fence that got put up while I was climbing other mountains.
This is why going home to my parents in Auckland is so emotionally charged. My old bedroom still has remnants of my high school self in printouts that I’ve blu-tacked to the wall. It is tiring thinking about all those old selves. Sometimes they feel like ghosts and I wish I could forget all those layers.
But there is a great quote that I keep on my wall, in my little apartment in Wellington: “All this time, I thought the girl I used to be was dead. But she is here, and I can protect her now.” Memory means a lot to me. It's how I make art, it's how I appreciate what is happening right now. When those moments happen, I think, I will write this down, and have the joy of this moment again. I will keep this safe. I will keep my old selves safe and all the things they loved.