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I have a photographic memory. Sometimes for no definable reason, my mind will present to me some random snapshot of a moment in my past like a sort of twisted Viewmaster. Other times, these moments are presented to me in video form, flashing short-subject movies in a semi-dreamlike state of mind.

Anyway, I'm often presented with images of an apartment I shared with a friend of mine back in the summer of 1988. It was a sort of cheesy-looking place with hideous gold shag carpet that had probably been in that apartment for 10 years. The style of the apartment was also reminiscent of the 70's, it had what was called a "sunken living room". In other words, there was a step down to get into the living room. This was my first attempt at true independence, even though that really wouldn't come for me for another 5 years or so. I had just escaped one abusive relationship and traded it for an almost equally psychotic one. Yet, there were moments of pure bliss here. I would listen to music here, sitting on the living room floor, smoking a cigarette or doing a jigsaw puzzle and almost feeling like a real grownup.

I also remember the waterbed I had here. I had pastel green bed linens for it, and a lamp with a decorative green light bulb in it. This was a room that I had wanted since I was in high school - a place that was truly my own. I remember those wonderful summer nights when I could leave the window open and hear the breeze and the crickets and the noisy parties going on in the building across the courtyard.

These little flashes of nostalgia are generally no big deal. It's more unsettling when moments of passion, long buried in a shoebox of forgotten experience, stuffed in a corner of my memory, come flying at me like knives made of the most perfect polished silver. Bright, clear, sharp enough to slice me to ribbons. I see a moment of a first kiss, a boy that broke my heart when I was 14, with his deep intense gaze through dark hypnotic eyes. A boy who confused and thrilled me to the point of breathlessness. A boy who made me cry like I had not cried before (and it took me 3 years to get over him). Then I'm thrown another memory, another lost love, a memory that draws a breath and kicks me hard in the ribs. The one who broke my heart at 16. The smell of photographic development chemicals always brings this memory on (he was a photographer and had a darkroom in the basement of his parents' house).

These memories probably wouldn't be a big deal if I were to experience them in a more disjointed sense. But these are so surrealistically visual that I wonder if these memories even belong to me, or if they are some residual visual junk left behind after watching a movie or tv show.

I can vividly describe moments and places of my childhood. I now know why I was not gifted with a talent for drawing or painting. I would be truly tortured, surrounded by my own paintings of images from every snapshot in my head. A friend's attic bedroom where we would listen to music, burn incense, and talk well into the night. The backstage area of my high school, where I spent countless hours of my teenage years painting sets, messing with the costumes, or just hanging out waiting for my turn to rehearse. Yes. I really do have a time machine in my head. The only problem is, I can't go back into the experiences, I can only watch them. Like having my very own ghost of days past, keeping watch on my sanity, whisking me away to a randomly generated moment in time for some inexplicable reason.

March 2013

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