I have a friend from childhood who remembers details. She knows what I wore to school on the first day of eighth grade and the way we celebrated my sixteenth birthday. If you ask her about her best childhood memory, she can tell you what color shorts she was wearing while she licked a purple Popsicle on her front porch on that favorite day. She can describe the bewitching sound of macaroni salad being mixed in a stainless steel bowl by an elderly neighbor while she sat with her skinny legs dangling off the woman’s kitchen counter. She wore glasses in middle school and occasionally fell when running to our bus in slick northeastern winters. She was seriously injured in a car accident in college and years later, her first husband left her for a woman lacking in IQ, years, and character. Every memory can be verbalized in detail so you feel you experienced them. She has the ability to make you laugh at each story whether or not it should be tragic. The ridiculousness in each situation takes precedence in her memories, and you try not to piss your pants while she takes you on a hilarious ride of details. She makes you laugh at herself and others in equal measure. My friend is the only person I know who could have a leg amputated and could crack a joke within the first minute of my hospital visit and make me laugh. She is the mathematician of details and manipulating the way you view any situation. She never allows pity to enter her equations.
When I think back, remembering raising my autistic children, details are fog tendrils which can’t be corralled with reaching fingers. The visual becomes ethereal, leaving only the feeling of the mist in drops of infinite texture settling on my skin. Each memory contains equal parts where the emotions contained in the original event and my grasp at details attempt to co-exist. I only have the ability to regurgitate the emotions I was experiencing. Events that once made me cry, often cause me to laugh now. My written interpretations manage to surprise me with their apparent tragedy.
My oldest friend has shown me that absurdity is the element that makes life interesting. Each of us has mounds of it occurring throughout our lives. The strong ones manage to ensnare enough details to make it interesting. We should joke about life, write of it, and speak about it to the best of our ability. If we are successful, we can let others have a glimpse at the inherent irony and bizarreness we collect as souvenirs on our journeys.