I guess this is a Part II to an essay I wrote a few months back; To All the Friends I’ve Loved Before (call it a sequel if you will). I had more thoughts on this. While my previous essay focused more on the people who’ve left, this essay delves into the memories that stayed behind.
I was never entirely sure why I held on to stuff.
Things. Dreams. Memories.
I think part of the reason why we hold on to something so tight is because we fear something so great won’t happen twice. – Faraaz Kazi.
Then I came across that quote and it sort of clicked. I realised I do have trouble letting go of the past because I’m scared. I’m scared that I’ll never have another experience, another friendship, another something as good as this one. Because what if this is as good as it gets? What if it doesn’t get better? What do you do then?
I still hold onto things. I was cleaning out an old box one day and I came across my first wallet. It’s blue with a teddy. I don’t know why I still keep it. On WhatsApp, I still have a starred message from a boy who reminded me to look at how far we’d come when we both fell short of our biggest dream. I don’t know why I still keep it. On my bookshelf sits a Thomas the Train toy from a McDonald’s Happy Meal that I ate when I was in the hospital. I don’t know why I still keep it.
I still hold on to dreams. XXX wasn’t just any dream. It was the dream. My dream. I would call it my first love. I was young when I first started dreaming about it and it was quite big. Big then, and even bigger now. I didn’t know how I was going to achieve it but I guess I thought somehow the stars would align. Lady Luck would smile on me or my prayers would be answered. So, I played my cards right, went by the book and all that jazz. I was going to achieve it. But then I didn’t.
Everything related to this dream only evokes sadness now but even after all this time, I still can’t seem to let it go.
I still hold on to memories. I find it a bit funny how I remember some stuff but not others. I’d studied history for a good many years and yet, for the life of me, I can barely recall what went down in the Mesopotamian period but I still remember the way X’s head tilted whenever he said my name, and the way Y slipped her hand into mine when she was panicking just before getting our English test results, and the exact features of a stranger who cleaned up my mess when I vomited all over myself (right down to the red scar on the finger of his right hand).
In this terrifying world, all we have are the connections that we make. – BoJack Horseman.
Look, I’ve had some pretty great moments, but I think of all my experiences, it wasn’t food eaten, gifts opened, or places visited that had left the biggest impact on my life; it was the people that I’d encountered. Some people taught me what kindness is. Some people taught me about the person I want to be. Some people taught me about what love was and then some people also taught me about what love wasn’t. I think knowing people – no, forming connections – gave a bigger meaning to my life.
I think there are people that help you become the person that you end up being, and you can be grateful for them, even if they were never meant to be in your life forever. – Diane Nguyen.
This is probably why I find it incredibly hard when people leave.
And the sad something I realised is that people can move on pretty quickly and I’m the one still standing here clutching on to the strands of our past. Oh, what a lasting introduction to adulthood it was.
I was going through my unskippable playlist the other day and I realised that my desire to hold on to memories has even trickled down to the songs I listen to because they let me reminisce about the past. These are songs like When We Were Young and Good Old Days and All Too Well and Forever Young.
Also, I’m a smidge guilty of tying specific people to certain songs that reminds me of them. Some self-absorbed part of me feels like the songs only apply to me and my relationships. But that’s a me-problem though.
The stupidly ironic thing is, letting go of someone is the easy part. Oh my darlings, I had long ago accepted that some things just aren’t meant to last forever (it was hard to move on but I did, even if it took days or months or sometimes … years.) God, that was the easy part! The hard – sorry, nearly impossible(?) – part is detaching yourself from the memories of something that once was.
Every once in a while, I’d see something that reminds me of someone who is no longer there. Perhaps I’d be playing Monopoly and I’d remember your favourite piece. This past week I had a bread-and-butter pudding and I remembered how much you loved it (but only with the custard sauce). Sometimes I think I see you in a crowd but… it isn’t you. And I’m glad because I worked hard to keep the memories at bay. But what if it was you? Would the time and distance between us become a forgotten thing of the past? Could we pick up where we left off? Is the magic still there? Or have you become somebody I used to know?
I’ve begun to understand that there is no middle ground for me when it comes to feelings. Either I care too much or not enough. And either way, someone is going to get hurt.
I wonder if five, ten, fifteen years from now, I’ll see something that reminds me of you. I wonder if, at that time, your name would still be as familiar to me as my own. I wonder if I’ll smile and think of you with happiness because that’s how you made me feel at one point. Because for now, I reminisce with a tinge of sadness for something that, I fear, might not happen twice. I guess it’s a sad thing to hold on to memories. But oh! it’s much, much sadder to let go. Messes with my feelings, messes with my mind; it makes me wonder if there was anything there at all in the first place. And I don’t think I want to know the answer to that.
Written by: Asareel