In December, I got an email notification related to my old Livejournal. If you are too young to know what that is, Livejournal was a blogging platform that was super popular in the 2000s and saw a decline in the 2010s. It was bought out by a Russian company, and if you were to visit it now, that is highly apparent. From around 2003 to 2008, I had three different accounts. Through this email notification, I was reminded of one of them and was able to get access to them again. It was quite a trip down memory lane back to college and post-grad days, an insight into what was going on in my head at the time.
I was pleasantly surprised to come across complete drafts of short stories I had written, posted, and completely forgotten about in the time since then. Of course, I copy-pasted the ones I still liked into Google Docs because what’s better than writing a story is revising one where most of the work was done for you by your past self. In some ways, it felt like stealing. What surprised me most was how some of them weren’t half bad, which led to a reminder of how little time I’ve devoted to keeping those fiction writing muscles sharp since the mid-2000s. There was a point where I was gung ho on focusing on writing, but of course, it’s tough to make money on just that, so over time, I got sidetracked by one thing after another, and here we are.
Reviewing these old Livejournal posts gave me a greater appreciation for where I am right now. I’m not going to claim I have complete mental health, but man, I am much less depressed based on those posts. I know I better understand myself and how my mind/emotions work. It’s pretty clear I’m much less social than when I was living on a college campus in a dorm, but I think that’s probably true of most people in modern society. Work is often where your “friends” come from in America, not so here in the Netherlands. People are friendly with co-workers, but your job is not seen as the totality of your being. When you meet a person here, it’s sort of weird to ask them what they do for a living as an opening question. Instead, asking people about their hobbies and interests seems more common.
Old journals and letters seem to be a key component of archival work with history, and I can see why. I was reminded of so much in just a couple of decades of reflection. However, I was also shocked at how much I had forgotten. For clarification, I didn’t start being a habitual weed user until last year, so there’s no reason my memory would have so many holes in it. However, I found multiple posts talking about a young woman I have no memory of basically hitting on me on campus and me not really knowing what to do because I was still deprogramming from being an awkward homeschooling kid. That was just one example of something I felt I should have some memory of, but there’s apparently a hole in my mind where it was. It made me wonder how much of our lives we just forget, and because most things that happen to us aren’t documented in any way, we’ll simply never remember them.
In turn, this led me to wonder what causes something to solidify itself as a permanent memory. Special events are clearly the most prominent (birthdays, weddings, birth of children), and then vacations or traumatic events. What’s most confounding to me are the random memories that are entirely insignificant. I can recall some of the most mundane moments of my childhood and college years, but then, reading through Livejournal, I found so much was forgotten. It’s made me wonder what moments from during the COVID pandemic I will just relegate to the dumpster and why that will be. Right now, I feel confident I’ll remember so many details about this time, but I know as more life happens to me and time passes, that won’t be true. Days will blend together with weeks, and they’ll be some points of light that shine brighter than others, but ultimately so much of our lives are lost in darkness.
So we’re the result of whatever memories figured out how to cling to our mind’s the tightest. How different would we be if those random memories were slightly different? Is it the significant events that shape our personalities or what we remember of those random days and people that otherwise slip away?
I also find it odd that I can recall with extreme detail movies I watched during this time where other memories & experiences were apparently being chucked out the window. Maybe we latch onto such mundane things as a way to plaster over the stuff that hurts. Hence, Moviebrain. I have an excellent memory for the movies I’ve watched, but I can tell other stuff gets lost along the way.