Locust House Variations, A Weekly Fiction Column by Adam Gnade, “La persistència de la memòria”

It was the last day of summer and Joey wanted me to drive him to Mission Beach so he could buy acid from “this weird guy Santos.” It was the last day of summer and the sky in San Diego looked as gray as a burial shroud. It was the last day of summer and Tyler, Frankie, and I went to Pokez and ordered too much food (and got Runts from the quarter machine on the way out). It was the last day of summer and we were stuck in traffic for an hour on the 163 listening to Bright Eyes. It was the last day of summer and memory is like the melted clocks in the Dali painting. You remember things in disordered piles, in stuttering fragments. Are you remembering Pokez and Joey’s acid as sharing space because both happened that day or is your mind attempting to bring order to chaos? What really happened on the last day of summer?

I’ve just remembered the name of that Dali painting.

It’s called La persistència de la memòria.

The Persistence of Memory.

One of the things that scares me most is how little we retain our past. The idea’s been an obsession of mine for years.

For instance, how much do you remember from, let’s say, 2010?

Can you truly pin those memories to that particular chunk of time or could they have happened a year earlier?

If you were to write down everything you remember doing from the year 2008, how many pages would it fill?

How much of that would be embellishments or retroactive expansions upon concrete memories?

How many memories do you have from when you were ten? How much space would that fill on a page?

Do you have any memories from before preschool?

Do you remember your great-grandparents or is it just memories of yourself as a younger person thinking about them? Memories of you having memories.

How many years are gone entirely?

How much memory will you lose as you continue to move away from the events in question? In the end, you will lose everything. But for now? What will you carry with you and what is gone for good?

What will you lose forever?

What will you save?

Adam Gnade

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