Magazines, memory, spare change

Last night some of the LOST founders found ourselves at the Poets & Writers 35th anniversary party, and as we dispersed and kept our eyes on what was happening on-stage (the musico-literary amalgam that is the band One Ring Zero), I found myself enjoying a free beer thanks to Google (the event sponsors) and thinking about P&W's achievement.

It wasn't a misty-eyed event—until the open bar closed down—but there was something about the fact that 35 years later, some of the people who were there then were still there, still talking about and celebrating writing and now recalling the history of their magazine. What better way to remember the past than through anniversaries, and what greater purpose for writing than to remember the original moments? Memory translates. Why do I keep every issue of The New Yorker? What is the deep frustration I feel when my email account fills and I'm forced to choose what to delete? Am I crazy or do I know how human my memory is—that I need things to help keep my memories alive?

I had a great aunt who was tall and quiet and absolutely kind. I’d never been to her home, where she lived alone, but whenever I saw her I remember thinking, when I was young, that she had a remarkable memory. She remembered every one of her nieces' and nephews' birthdays, when we were young and before she died, and each birthday, she'd give us a plastic bag filled with coins, each coin in it minted in the year of our birth. It felt awful to spend those coins, each one handled by her and categorized by our birth years, each one having circulated for as long as we ourselves had, but we did, of course, trading her work for gum, or Topps baseball cards.

When she died, relatives went through her house and discovered a kind of legacy—papers, magazines, money, and clothes, everywhere, in stacks and in closets. I like to think that perhaps her mind was so concerned with preserving her memory that her house took up some of her day-to-day operational slack, functioning as an annex, an element of her that contained her mind's overflow.

Is it too much to say that LOST should be a similar thing? A repository or annex? A place where lost things are? A place where we blow off the dust, or the dirt, or the years, and celebrate the people, places, and things that were?

What did I lose yesterday? (A dry cleaning receipt, an argument, 2800 breaths.) But what don't I know I lost? What don't I remember losing? What don't we all remember losing?

We'll be here, finding out.

1 comment:

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