My mother sent me three unexpected photos this week, sent by her brother, Serge. The three photos create a short snapshot of a joyful moment. We see my parents in their forties.
It’s no lie to say that I didn’t realize right away that I was in two of the pictures. I was simply amazed to see on my father’s forehead the same vein that appears when I laugh with a good heart, to see the poses of my mother that my sister Mary seems to have inherited. And then I, finally, who appears behind them (in the first picture, we see my sister Diane who, with her oceanic memory, must know exactly when the photo was taken).
So I wonder why I have so few memories of that period. When I try to go back in time, I certainly have impressions, reminders, but nothing from this past seems to color my present. And I have little memory of names… I am remembered, I only remember a few people. This boy, behind this young couple, is me. He looks older than his parents. I was a serious boy, used to be called sir. I was proud of myself and presumptuous. I don’t think that’s changed.
How old was I? Fourteen, sixteen? Was I already seeing this couple of “accotés,” the first in the village? Was I already in this rock band? (Yes, yes, rock…) Had I ever experienced the first sexual emotions with this sports boy?
The memory comes back, it seems to me, suddenly. But the happy face of my parents on that day, the daily life with them, it remains confusing. I seem to be no better in this modern present that inhabits me. I’ve always been a sailor, a lone wolf. I was born, and since then, I still have as much to do as I certainly quickly forget my attachments. Perhaps I would have made a woman unhappy because she would soon have been a widow of my inner adventures.
This series of three photos, this little syncopated film, is probably profoundly inscribed in my psyche, anchored under my epidermis, filtering without my knowledge, and interpreting before the letter, the syntax of the present.
Remembering is precious. Surfing on memory is a Dantean task because it is both a sinister swell and a driving force. Perhaps I should push myself, every morning, to review my life as much as possible, take ten, twenty minutes of my time to observe the journey I have made, and then turn towards the path to follow, because happiness is built by endlessly retaking the road.