Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Light the corners of my mind

Anyone who has seen Memento knows that "memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They're just an interpretation, they're not a record, and they're irrelevant if you have the facts." While I've known that to be true intellectually for quite some time, recently my own brain revealed its fickle nature.

For our honeymoon, J & I went to Ireland. J drove because at the time I couldn't opperate a manual transmission at all. At present I only do it under duress and it stresses me smooth out and I don't like it. But I can do it. But I digress. J did all the driving. Which means I was always in the passenger seat. Which is fine. J likes to drive and I like to take pictures out the windows of moving vehicles. A match made in heaven.

Recently, in talking with my cousin Buddy--and remind me to tell you about kilometers and milliliters in a bit--I realized 2 things. One--they don't drive on the other side of the road in Germany. I think I kind of knew that, but not really. So when Buddy comes here and drives my folks BMW (which stands for Bavarian Motor Works...does everyone in the world but me know this?) it's not really all that strange for him. He's driven speds with triple digits on the Autobahn, so I imagine the Texas speeders don't faze him one bit.

This is relevant in that it got me thinking about driving around Ireland and what I remember from our cross-country drive. After spending a weekend in a little B&B on the Antrim coast in Northern Ireland, we drove 6 or so hours to Donegal. We saw many rainbows and Ireland really is as green as you think it is. It's also got pretty blues and golds and spots that remind me a bit of northern California. We couldn't play the cow game because the Irish country side is just lousy with sheep instead of cows. Black faced sheep and white faced sheep and since it's very difficult to brand a woolly animal, they spray paint them instead, which led to the "one sheep, two sheep, red sheep, blue sheep" game instead.

So, I have fond memories of riding around the northern part of Ireland (and Northern Ireland, but those are two different things) while Jeremy drove the manual transmission Passat wagon or whatever it was. It was blue. I remember that much. Nothing unusual about my memories. They're all from the perspective of the passenger seat.

Only, the US passenger side. Which is the driver's side in Ireland. I know this. I remember frequently walking to the wrong side of the car and J teasing me that I was welcome to try and drive. I rememeber that. I know that I sat on the right side of the car--I mean, the correct side of the car, which in this case is the left. But all my memories have re-written themselves to show from the OTHER side. My brain says I turned my head to the right to look out my window, and I know that's not right. I know I looked left. If I did look right, it was to talk to J, but what I know to be true is in direct conflict with my actual memories. It's as though my brain just merged the Irish memories with all the other car memories and made everything match. They should stick out like a sore thumb because I only have that one trip where "shotgun" was on the left. But they don't. It's the only set of memories that I concretely know are wrong.

I wonder how many other memories are wrong. I know that the room I think of as the green room from the house on 1414D Washington St wasn't really green. It had green curtains and a green bedspread, so the light in there always seemed green, but the walls weren't painted green. I know that, but I don't remember the walls as white. Growing up we had a couch that my mother swears up and down was brown, but I thought it was grey. I mean, it was a varigated pattern of light colors that my mind read as grey. I suppose once upon a time it could have been brown, or maybe beige would be more accurate, but I don't remember it any other color than grey. Colors changing seems more natural a memory lapse than to completely change the interior of an automobile.

Unreliable brain.

OH! Kilometers. So, in talking with Buddy, I revealed that I say it kill-OM-eters. Buddy laughed at me. The inconsistency here is that all the other measurements aren't pronounced this way. It's centi-meter, not cent-IM-iter, milli-liter not mill-IL-ilter. But I've since vowed that I shall be consistent. I will say mill-IL-iter because it's way more fun than milli-liter. Try it! Kilo-meter may be boring and kill-OM-eter isn't that much more exciting, but cent-IM-iter and mill-IL-iter are a riot.


Swistle said...

Oh, weird/neat!

Jessica said...

I'm totally saying cent-IM-iter from now on. Love it.

My family went to Ireland in 2007 and I wish I could remember more of the driving around. I mean, I remember it, but what I remember is the six of us and all of our luggage crammed into a European van, which was none too large. I couldn't see out of my heavily tinted window well, plus we were exhausted because my parents wanted to see ALL of Ireland (including Northern Ireland) in a week so we did a lot of driving and started very early each morning. I believe my mom in the front passenger seat enjoyed it a lot, but those of us stuffed in the back missed most of it.

It was fun, though, in a "family memories" way. Especially since I was already married at the time so my husband got to come along and we can reminisce together about the suitcases tumbling on my sister's head or the GPS taking us down a cow path when dad seleced "shortest route."

Elsha said...

I always find it interesting to discuss how differently my siblings and I remember the same events. How did it actually happen?!

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