Seven Things You Don't Remember About Last Year

by Michael Channing

This year is not going well. The world is sick in many ways. A literal sickness is currently keeping us under quarantine, killing people by the truckload, and crushing economies. Whatever the final effects, it will surely leave a mark. Of course, that ain't all is it? Here in the United States, the best chance we had at system-wide change lost his presidential bid to a pan of old milk because we as a people are afraid of anything new. Come election time, we'll choose between the evil of two lessers and go absolutely nowhere. Plus Neil Peart died in January, and the teenager walled up inside me has been aimlessly wandering the halls ever since.

We remember the old ways, before the riptides of life pulled us into separate islands. You probably dream of going out again to concerts, to movies, to sporting events. Hanging with your buds, visiting your family, searching for someone new to connect with. We all clutch those memories like sacred totems. But what of the small, not at all insignificant moments that fell between those memories and were lost? They are just as vital, just as precious and in need of preserving.

Things like...

The Silences

The silences

Once in a while, it was just quiet. Maybe you were alone, or maybe not, but there was no noise. No television, no phone, no talking. You sat with your thoughts, your emotions, and let them fully consume you. No one told you what was important, what you should think or worry about, what you should imagine or contemplate. All that came from inside. There was no one but you. And, for a brief moment, you knew exactly who you were.

That First Cup of Coffee in the Morning

The first cup of coffee in the morning.

Everything before was heavy and insubstantial, obscured by fog. Everything after was a hurried bustle from station to station, always racing someone else's clock. But the moment you took that first sip was yours only. You were alive, and the world opened like a blossom. Then you noticed you were late, and you slipped back into the gearwork of ceaseless machinery, a nameless, uncounted cog.

The Drive Home

The drive home.

You listened to your favorite music, a podcast, the news, anything but the sound of the tires in the rain or the hum of your heart. You had no obligation except to drive, and sometimes not even that. Your hands know the way home, could probably make it there on their own. You had all that silence and time. You could have written a poem in your mind, spoken a love letter into the air, transcribed that novel you've been promising all your life. But you complained about the traffic and the weather, over which you had no control at all.

The Anticipation

The anticipation.

Your favorite show aired its final episode; the best band in the world released a new album after half a decade of silence; the next book in a series you've been reading since high school finally hit the stores. And you wanted it. Would it be any good? Of course it would. In your mind, before the reveal, it was the greatest work of art ever. You waited, and it only got better as the release date approached. Then it came, and you bought it, or downloaded it, or dropped it into your queue. And it sat there, this faultless, ideal art that existed for you and you alone. How long did you wait before you destroyed it?

The Time Between Awaking and Arising

The time between awaking and arising.

The dream was still with you and just as real as the brightening window or the covering quilt. For a few moments the geography of sleep was solid, the shifts in time and perspective perfectly reasonable. You could still flex your wings and taste angel breath. You were still falling, painting, surfing on the moon, conversing with trees. You remembered how to play the pumpkin you carved from a trumpet shell. Then you kicked aside the bed clothes and rushed to the bathroom, and the clinging mists of make believe broke and dissolved to nothing.

Being Sad

Being sad.

It happened a few times last year. Usually, it was a memory that brought it on, someone you used to know, something you once could do. It struck like a fist, and you gasped for air and reached to fill the silence with noise, the void with anything. You were hurt because you remembered, and you remembered out of love. You missed that person because you loved him; you cried because she meant so much. You felt lost because you had changed and life changed around you. The fact it hurt meant it was real and you were alive. You were lucky to feel that sadness and the love from which it was born.

All the Hugs

All the hugs.

You got them when you left someplace and when you arrived. Some were brief and light, while others lingered warm and tight. Who did you hug last year? How many did you give and get? You don't remember, do you? Well, it's not too late. Start a hug journal today. Be sure to note duration, pressure, warmth, and moisture (where applicable).

Mysteries of Night Escape the Light of Day

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Chokes and Warbles, a collection of essays and poems by Michael Channing

Updated May 1, 2020