I’m pants at directions. I’m pretty sure that’s British slang for really bad, if not, well I’ve never been to Great Britain so you’ll just have to excuse my ignorance. International colloquialism aside, I’m really pretty terrible at directions, both giving them and following. If you’re ever giving me directions, and you hope to actually have me make it to the destination, kindly avoid saying things like ‘Turn North after two miles’. I have no concept of either which way is north or how far two miles is. The only time I know which way is east or west is if the sun is either rising or setting. There’s an old scene in a Muppet movie when someone tells the Muppets to turn left at the fork in the road. You can probably guess the next part, the Muppets drive a little ways until they see an actual fork, a giant utensil sticking into the ground, and then they make the turn. Those are the kind of directions I could follow.
I like landmarks. They’re how I make my way from point A to point B and how I describe where I’ve been. My memory records locations like others remember dates. I may not remember the year or even the month, but like any good wanderer, I can remember where I was. When I heard Mother Teresa died: in the parking lot of my grade school. When the twin towers came down: College at mandatory language tutoring. The first time I slow danced with a boy, my first taste of alcohol, the first time I kissed my husband.
I remember the where; like little snapshots in my brain. Polaroid pictures of significant moments that have made up my life and likely quite a few insignificant ones. I can see the view, where I was, who I was with, and my surroundings. The images often have invisible aspects too, how I felt, my perception of the event or moment. Perhaps there is some deep psychological or physiological reason or correlation; a left brain versus right brain debate. Maybe Katherine’s research into memory and narrative would have an explanation. Or perhaps all the artistic talent that I see in my family tree filtered into my DNA after-all, leaving my brain to prefer visuals and images over statistics or dates.
Whatever the case, the snapshots of my memory are there to show me where I’ve been.
They are the Landmarks of my life.