This post is inspired by Joe Brainard’s “enchanting” (in Michael Dirda’s words) memoir “I Remember.” Shamelessly derivative as this exercise seemed, I could nevertheless not resist the temptation to try it out. I might do it again.
I remember my mother telling me that my father used to trace tiny cross marks on her forehead whenever she fell ill.
I remember the warm glow that lights up within me every time I strike an easy conversation with a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while.
I remember how rereading certain books is like falling in love all over again.
I remember the sudden silence and sadness that engulf me every time I finish a book.
I remember being so moved by the intense string passages of Mozart’s 40th symphony that for the briefest of fleeting moments my life seemed absolutely justified.
I remember the luminosity that suffuses my life every time I watch Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service and Takahata’s Only Yesterday.
I remember realizing that Marquez’s marvellous One Hundred Years of Solitude is Borges’s stories made flesh and blood.
I remember experiencing unconditional gratitude for the existence of Anne Fadiman, Michael Dirda, George Johnson, Hayao Miyazaki, John Crowley, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, and the works of Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Robertson Davies, Diana Wynne Jones, J. R. R. Tolkien, John Updike, Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges.
I remember being awestruck in the face of majestic beauty on listening to a western classical symphony orchestra play for the first time.
I remember discovering something new in Beethoven’s Ninth symphony every time I turned to it in moments of desperation, joy, or confusion.
I remember the excitement that accompanied the assembling of every new Lego block set and the sheer frustration when blocks went missing.
I remember the overwhelming sense of loss that moved me to tears when, as an eight year-old, the realization dawned that I would be leaving Japan forever.
I remember my parents during the summer of their lives: young, beautiful, and bubbling with hope and enthusiasm. It was a magical time when anything and everything seemed possible.
I remember the goosebumps inducing rush I felt on reading the last few lines of John Crowley’s Little, Big: “It was anyway all a long time ago; the world, we know now, is as it is and not different; if there was ever a time when there were passages, doors, the borders open and many crossing, that time is not now. The world is older than it was. Even the weather isn’t as we remember it clearly once being; never lately does there come a summer day such as we remember, never clouds as white as that, never grass as odorous or shade as deep and full of promise as we remember they can be, as once upon a time they were.”