Growing old is a fantastic experience, full of the wonder of watching one’s skin turn from the supple surface of a Parisian handbag to the texture of burnt newspaper. Fun!
One of the less attractive parts of growing older, though, is a marked loss of short-term memory. People tell me things all the time that I fully intend to include in my column, but they are forgotten by this receiving vessel (sometimes only moments later). And a few nights ago, while lying awake in bed listening to the super moon work the tide, a most poignant thought washed over me — one that directly translated a uniquely Chappy experience. In the morning, the thought was gone. I assure you, though, that it had been with me that night and not snoring (Arlene), you would have wept at the beauty of my words. Alphonso most surely would have if he wasn’t a remarkably unsentimental feline. Perhaps you might think that there could be methods to aid my memory, (written notes, voice memos, etc.), but another side effect of aging is the rude ignoring of the advice of others ... so, maybe keep it to yourselves.
Fortunately, the dimmer my memory of the immediate becomes, the brighter the light that shines on memories of things long past.
I’d imagine that this phenomenon is not unique to my person, and guess further that Chappy herself is a strong conduit to those reminisces for others as well. There is an energy that envelopes a Chappy day or night that not only creates strong memories but also pulls them back to one time and time again. The smell of a beach towel off the line, or the savory breeze of an evening passage on the ferry — these become printed in bold type, and cued up in the front of the file in one’s Chappy mind. There are moments in a Chappy day, however, that seem more conducive than others to this imprinting. The pleasant afternoon fatigue wrought by the intense drain of the summer sun or the dreamy intimacy of a closed-door rainy day allow more synapse dedication, as other thoughts are pressed out by the withdrawing inward.
I don’t read books as much as I once did — too many other (briefer) distractions for my ADD/OCD/RSVP. And I never was a voracious reader (by the way, I think people who read a lot of books should have come up with another adjective by now for their reading habits...insatiable? voluminous? braggy? I don’t know, I’m not the “voracious” reader). I believe that by not crowding my intellectual literary warehouse by stuffing Voltaire, Koontz, Satre, Woodhouse, Fitzgerald and Collins (and other authors that just came up in my Google search) onto the same shelf, I allow the books that I do read more space to breath, walk around a bit, check out the digs and settle in.
The point is: I’m awesome...and that I can pick up a book that I read years ago on a Chappy day/night and be transported back to the moment I first read it. Ordinary People on Wasque, eating my grandmother’s Munchos and listening to the seagulls fight over an egg salad sandwich (a very long battle). The Sterile Cuckoo in the CBC Crab Hole — the pages stained by rum punch and the written words mixed with the verbal stories of grandchildren’s issues at Bryn Mawr or UM. I truly believe that the books read on Chappy continue to tell their story many years after the last page is read.
In other news: the Chappy ferry was busy. Then it wasn’t.
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