I remember my first trip to Italy, all the food, markets, and water. I remember sailing inside a blue cave, and the light aquamarine of the pristine water. I remember my trip to Switzerland, with the spotless subways and snowy mountain peaks. I remember flying up that steep hill on a tram and my hotel room with beanbag chairs, and a view of the Matterhorn. I remember sitting in that steamy hot tub as tiny snowflakes silently fell to the bubbling water, another mountain smack in front of me. I remember the steaks in Tuscany, the jamon in Barcelona, the duck in St. Emilion and the frankfurters in Berlin. I remember the parking lot full of sports cars in Monte Carlo and the line of sportier cars in Cannes. I remember when my brother was eating ham pieces out of a cup and my grandfather accidentally knocked them over onto the gray-stone street. I remember the salt-mines and Dachau in Austria. I remember skiing in Vermont and wading through snow in Montreal. I remember my first plane ride and my stay in the Beverly Hilton, all those many years ago. I also remember getting homesick each time, ready for the couch and the neighborhood, but not ready for the fun to stop.
I remember the hundreds of trips to the park with my two closest friends. I remember each time we circled the park. I remember running across the bumpy, winding path through the playground, blurry trees, squirrels, and other park patrons flashing by, all but split-second scenes in my peripheral vision. I remember we’d all get there at the same time, wheezing, our feet sore but feeling brilliant. I was always the middle of the two, not quite as nerdy as one of them, and not quite as funny as the other. I remember the countless times one of us would let loose a dookie joke or inside joke from years ago and fall over laughing. We would split sides and gasp for air. Our friendship was and always will be tied together with happy humor and enjoying each other’s company. I know both of their laughs better than the alphabet, one of them a giggly, hyena-like chuckle, the other a crazed-chimp chortle. The loud notes of their laughter are thoughtfully stitched into my memory. I remember how our manic dashes through the park evolved into a slightly-less ravenous jog, and then into a civilized stroll, characterized by pleasant, reminiscent conversation. I remember our moms dragging us three home, while we desperately hid or walked crazily to prolong our time together. Our trips to the movies, to each other’s houses and out for pizza were numerous. We have had fun through glistening snow, summer heat, fall leaves, and blossoming trees. But what I will always cherish most was our ability to make anything fun, whether it was a geometry lesson in school or a walk through a supermarket.
I remember running in circles, chasing my brother when I was very young. I remember the sky and my brother circling me, the scene a dizzy glimpse of childhood. I remember when I fell over and scraped my knee on that dizzy childhood day. I remember crying and screaming at my bleeding knee, my mother running over to comfort me. I remember when I fell backwards down a flight of stairs like an imbecile and found a way to fall up a flight of stairs as well. I remember when I fell off the monkey bars in first grade and broke my wrist. I remember how everyone in my class signed my cast and how the teachers still made me write. I remember when I slid across my living room and hit my jaw on the coffee table. I remember when I hit my head on a chair and got my head stuck in one. I remember twisting my ankle dozens of times in my elementary school playground. I have sprained more muscles than I know. I sometimes get bruises and cuts that have no known origin.
Memory is a bittersweet thing. It makes one want to remember but not want to. But there can’t be any good memories if there aren’t any bad ones.