As a kid, I use to try and capture things in my head, blinking my eyes and telling myself, Remember this moment. Remember this moment. Like a Polaroid in my mind. I didn’t always choose moments that made sense, selecting random things that all these many years later I still remember like yesterday, but holding no particular significance. Sitting in the grass of our home in Baton Rouge with my neighbor Erica, conspiring and eating the fallen pecans that were strewn all around us. My shadow and the ceiling fan as I lay on my stomach in my bedroom, restlessly trying to go to sleep. Playing with friends on the driveway with a garden hose, wearing a maroon bikini, fabric rose pinned to the hip, two days before moving to Mandeville at nine years old, sad to leave the only life I knew but somehow emboldened by the idea of creating a new one.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a little better at selecting the important things, creating a narrative around my years that makes feel alive, passionate, grateful and gracious. Sure, there’s been lots of bad moments that I can’t help but remember, permanent parts of my memory. But I’ve learned to editorialize, focusing more on the good moments, choosing to skim the breakups and last moments of life, the gut wrenching stomach punches that come with the end of a relationship or the death of a family member. Pausing for longer periods on the moments that make me smile; the swelling in the chest feeling that happens before a long awaited first kiss, the afternoons splashing with MawMaw in the pool, her funny one-legged dance that she was convinced prevented swimmer’s ear.
I have found myself constantly blinking in India. Remember this moment. Remember this moment. But unlike before, I have found myself drawn to the unedited version of reality. I want to remember everything. The moment of pure and unadulterated joy that comes from riding a bicycle through the back alleys of Old Delhi, passing people using every mode of transportation, the smell of sewage and fresh roti, life whisking past me at full speed. The way Veda Devi gripped my hand my last day, pulling it toward her forehead like a blessing. The moments when it all got to be too much, finally breaking me with the realization that aging is an ugly endeavor, bodies and memories failing in devastating ways, and that loneliness can be even uglier. The dread growing in my stomach when I realize that I will witness this happen to people I love the most. Realizing that the past year of my life, the people that love me the most witnessed this in me. Remember this moment. Remember this moment.
I want to remember the pungent smell of Holi powder. Shelling peas with Sister Wilma. The color of sunset on the Taj Mahal. Sitting with my fellow tribe members, burning letters and letting go. The breeze and the sunshine and the tastes and the colors and the smells. Sitting at the Craft Museum, surrounded by love, complete peace at my decisions and direction, not wanting to be anywhere else in the world, with the most delicious cup of South Indian coffee, feeling tears of joy creep into my eyes at the absolutely perfectness of this moment in my life.
I want to remember the surges of intense sadness, the grieving of what 36 was supposed to look like on me, only to have them replaced moments later but a feeling of complete and total bliss and confidence at what 36 actually is. The nonstop serenade of constant horns.
I want to remember the lyrics I listened to on the hour drive to Mother Teresa’s each morning, creating my own personal soundtrack, watching a movie reel of life from the back of a Jeep.
I could feel at the time
There was no way of knowing
Fallen leaves in the night
Who can say where they´re blowing
As free as the wind
And hopefully learning
Why the sea on the tide
Has no way of turning
More than this, there is nothing
More than this, tell me one thing
More than this, there is nothing
As I sit in the Munich airport on my way home, I tell myself once again. Remember this moment. Remember this moment. Because there is nothing more than this. And this is absolutely everything.