the memory mining phase

Our kind neighbor dropped off a tray of sticky buns yesterday, which sent Matt on a Proust-ish memory daydream of being a 10-year-old immigrant in Denver with a map of all the Cinn-a-bons. Cinn-a-bon, a wonder of American decadence to a Polish boy.

i think we have reached the deep-dive memory stage of quarantine. If we can’t make any memorable new experiences right now, why not? The NYTimes travel section was full of memories this week… even the Sunday Review was.

What do I want to remember? Feeling free in Italy last fall, having a magical meandering conversation about life with my cousin, with no distractions, with the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain in the background? Riding the train to NYC, to be kid-free for more than 24 hours for the first time in 6 years, and not even knowing what to do with freedom?

Why did it take me that long?

Before Covid, I was making my way through a stack of books by liberated women: “Stories of the Sahara,” the five diaries of Anais Nin, essays from Gloria Steinem and Rebecca Solnit. I was inputing vast amounts of liberation data. I was starting to understand that how narrow the scope of your life is has everything to do with your lack of freedom, especially as a woman. And that making a broader life for yourself is so brave, and for a mother requires a very careful wrenching open of limitations.

And now I can’t bear to read any of it. Our lives have to be narrow.

The one thing that makes me want to continue our quiet, narrow existense is the amazing drop in emissions, the clean air and the healthier creatures. Would I be willing to have a quiet, narrow life for two years if it meant that the world could start to heal itself? Definitely yes.

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