My family immigrated to America when I was almost five years old and I have few memories of my life in Kiev. I’ve recollected few stories of my childhood and those have been enough to sustain me. Big chunks of time are missing in my memories. My American husband thinks my young refugee status left me somewhat traumatized, but I disagree. He has suggested a hypnotist might be able to unlock the cache of my secret memory bank. My most vivid memories began when I met my him 11 years ago. Ever since, I’ve remembered almost every single, colorful day and reams of hilarious romantic comedy dialog.
I have these scattered snapshots of my life before 30, but so many memories are missing – or trapped? I had premature dementia of my earlier life and it seemed to set on as soon as it was happening. It was as if every day I awoke with a clean etch-a-sketch, and when I went to sleep, it would clear it all away. I made new memories to override the old ones.
I am certain no medical condition caused this, aside from the suggested repressed early immigration ordeal, but I don’t buy it. I let those memories go because I didn’t value them enough. As a child, I didn’t understand that I must revel in my days; I didn’t realize how precious, innocent and fleeting they were. Through my mother’s complaining, I learned that every day is a new start, a do-over, but not how every day should be devoured, cherished and polished up to be stored away.
We all restart something at some point in our lives – careers, relationships, new cities or homes. Adapting is a matter of taking a piece of the old me into the new me. Once upon a time, I spent my days waiting to go to sleep so I can start over again. I was in the midst of launching my version of Life 2.0. when I met my husband. I knew as we walked across the entire city of New York, I would immortalize every waking minute because I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to hit pause walking down the street holding hands, sitting on park benches doing funny accents, staring into each other’s eyes after a kiss. I climb into bed at night and know these are the moments I’ll never forget.