There’s a screensaver on my monitor that I can’t decide if I love or hate. I don’t remember how I came to use it and I have no idea how I turn it off or change it. Computer functions such as these are beyond my patience to parse. Let’s just call it magic.
What happens is a photograph is pulled randomly from memory and dances across the screen for 10 seconds or so – a smiling face of a friend, a Halloween costume from 15 years ago, that day at the lake, a kiss from my husband, the cover of a book I’ve written. And because the photos are so fleeting and there is no continuity between them, it’s almost a kaleidoscope of emotions to watch. Pieces of memory falling into place then instantly shifting and falling again, then falling again.
If I watch the screen for 60 seconds or so I’ve skimmed 25 years. The down side is that I have a ten-second peek at things I have forgotten but there is no way to go back there, no way to find the file path the photo was pulled from. Somewhere in memory there’s the next moment as well – the hug after the kiss, the lake sunset – but there is no way to get there. If you click on the photo the screensaver disappears. The joy of seeing the image turns to pain as it slips away from view and another appears. At random.
Recently I’ve been reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen in years; friends I’ve shared joys with in the past. It started with my husband’s funeral in April, where so many people came from so many places in our memory. Family. Colleagues and former co-workers, distant relatives, clients he served and employees who served him sitting row upon row in a sanctuary filled with love and remembrance.
Next has been the reconstruction of my career after being laid off in June. I went to the San Diego Magazine open house and shared wine and laughter with people I used to work with under deadline. This week I went to the Press Club party and discussed the Coronado murder with folks whose last discussion with me centered on the Republican National Convention coming to San Diego in 1996. Yesterday I had lunch with Sue Garson, last seen some 12 years ago at a fabulous party in her home. For years we were close and I watched her parlay her Reader press pass into free entrance to museums in Istanbul and interview access to royalty in Europe. Amazing woman. We’ve made plans to walk in Balboa Park.
Finally, I’m moving back into a home that I used to live in 25 years ago, newly divorced with two small children. I peeled back the carpet this week – so new and fresh when it was installed, now matted and frayed. Front stoop so small where we stood for that first day of Kindergarten photo. The arbor sagging above the stone patio where icing dropped in globs from cupcakes at the High Tea where rough and tumble Girl Scouts dressed in their mothers’ finery and wore hats. The heater that burned my daughter’s leg. The sidewalk where my son fell again and again and again until he learned to ride without training wheels.
Images startling in their clarity but also fleeting, a wisp only, of the past I want to reconnect to, resurrect, and reconstruct for the future. Let’s just call it magic.