May 31, 2016

Remembering False Memories

I remember telling my mom about a memory I had once. I'd misbehaved on a road trip, and as punishment I was tied on the roof of the car while my dad drove. Slowly, I'm sure. Like, 5 mph. Just enough to feel the wind. Mom looked at me and said "Gwen, never happened."

I know memories can get warped with time, we recall things differently or what not. But that memory, which is still faintly in my head, is completely fabricated and yet still there.

I had forgotten about it until last week. It was D&D night, so my friends gathered around my dining room table for another week of campaigning. (It was awful. With 15 party members we still only barely made it through the battle with one creature and that was with the DM taking pity on us. Never figured out what the AC was, but it was higher than 20, and had an armor bonus higher than my weapon could dish out.) We spent the first hour or so setting up snacks and re-capping, and I found myself feeling strangely nostalgic about how last week our characters had a drunken bonding night with the elvish army we were helping.

And that was weird. One doesn't fondly remember false memories. And it was the oddest thing, because I wasn't remembering talking and conscripting the event around the table. We never got into the details. I was recalling the feeling of sitting around a bonfire and drinking while conversing in a broken foreign language.

None of which, I should state, I've done at the same time in real life. But I think I picked bits and pieces of my experiences, shoved them on to my cleric, and then pulled them back to the forefront of my mind a week later.

These fake memories are a result of storytelling. Stories that I've told myself and are often limited to my own experience. In that way, I guess you could say it's like remembering dreams - flashes of images and feelings and plot whose impressions stay much longer than the actual details.

Sadly, I've never experienced this with books. Never pulled up a memory of seeing Hogwarts for the first time, or gaping as a knight of Tortall rides by. Despite all my reading and love of words, stories resonate for me instead of creating experiences. Aside from the memories associated with reading - like forgoing meals or frequenting the same cafe for tea and book time.

And that saddens me. I would love false memories of books I reread again and again. To close my eyes while I lay in the back seat of a car and remember hunting for a sign of the Light, or traveling to a sideways universe. I guess I'll just have to remember that fake wind from that fake roof-top car ride.

Do any of you have false memories you look back on?


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