i was something to say, made of my own language.
i just don’t know what it was. i cannot remember.
ever discover inconsistencies in your own story? key facts in a major event memory, cleverly falsified, for no reason whatsoever?
i won the schoolwide spelling bee when i was nine. it took place in the office, over the intercom. i remember, i remember so clearly, the ending. it was down to me and a seventh grader. they gave him complexion. he blew it. i spelled it. i had to spell one more word. it was easy. it was chicken.
as i tell you this, i see it, i hear it, i feel it. painfully shy child speaking into a microphone broadcasting live into every classroom in the entire school, you don’t forget that special kind of terror, like slipping gears into this unknown overdrive and the world turns into a blur around a single point of focus. this is my memory, an audio-visual recording of whole awareness at the time: the word, the microphone, my own voice. i remember being asked to spell chicken, and spelling chicken. i remember.
the word was poultry. i came across the newspaper article decades later, while sorting through one of my packratty boxes. i *remembered* spelling chicken. clearly. i told that story many times. from memory. from a vivid, multimedia production of a memory.
which my mind had edited. seamlessly, inserting a plausible but incorrect substitute, overwriting the original. and even now, even knowing that this editing took place, i cannot for the life of me play back the memory with the correct word.
i remember chicken.
if the article had been incorrect, i would have spotted that at the time, when the memory was fresh and unadulterated. trust me, *that* i would have remembered. there’s nothing a nerdy know-it-all kid loves better than correcting grownup’s mistakes.
i was something to say, made of my own mythology, and whatever it was, i should not call it forgotten.
it is all revisionist history. all of it.