Mar 20Liked by M Tamara Cutler

I have a vivid memory of the night my father came to tuck me into bed after I'd disobeyed his order to pick up a Little Golden Book I'd left it on the driveway. My infraction at age seven was not due to churlishness but fear of what was under that book: a squashed grasshopper. Yes, I had committed murder, or so I thought. When my father came into my bedroom and told me there was nothing under the book, my relief sank into the pillow of my bed. I remember seeing the pink-flowered wallpaper and feeling the firm mattress under my body and the cool breeze flowing from the north-facing window. Except that room didn't exist until I was sixteen, when my parents built three bedrooms onto the house. Before that, I shared a blue-wallpapered bedroom with my two sisters and slept in a bed with a thin soft mattress that sagged in the middle, and the window faced east. So, now I wonder, how reliable are the rest of my memories?

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We remember our first concert. It’s a story to tell over and over but the details fade. At least they used to, before you could type a few specifics into the search engine. Voila! Names, dates, locations, even set lists. The memories flood back…

I started at the top. 1990 arrived with a game-changer. Dad had scored us tickets, chaperoning me into the world of live rock. I was an ecstatic 11-year-old going to my first gig and with a Beatle, with Paul McCartney. We cruised the 80 miles north on I-35, pulling into Jack Trice Stadium parking lot, home of the Iowa State Cyclones. It was a perfect summer day in July, tailgate weather. We filed into our upper deck seats and were blown away by a powerhouse of legendary songs culminating in a John Lennon Tribute Medley. I was forever altered.

It was a pivotal and lasting experience, cementing my love as a music enthusiast and performer. Forever in search of that simple melody, those timeless patterns of lyrics and notes.

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Mar 21Liked by M Tamara Cutler

My first marriage ceremony took place in a nondescript courtroom in the lower district of Manhattan witnessed by my future husband’s sister and brother-in-law. I was 18. It took no time at all. The next thing I remember is sitting on my husband’s lap in an equally non-descript hotel room calling my parents to inform them of my marriage.

My second wedding was to my childhood sweetheart with whom I had recently had a child. It took place in a small patio, officiated by a Buddhist, and witnessed by two good friends. Our daughter was the proud ring bearer. I remember the poignancy of the moment, the love my partner and I were messaging to one another, with Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana playing and a reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 22.

My third was a beautiful ceremony held in an elegant atrium surrounded by friends, colleagues, and finally, my parents and sister. My father gave me away and my daughter presented the rings. My mother was in tears. The next day my husband prepared a wonderful Italian dinner to honor “the family.”

I may not remember the dates and some details, but the memories of these moments are more meaningful to me.

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Mar 22Liked by M Tamara Cutler

When I was child, my maternal grandmother captivated me with her memory of barrel racing down the Niagara Falls. She shared that her mother would take her racing during the winter, no less, and spectators had clapped as she reached the bottom of the Falls.

The story seemed plausible; I had not traveled much (a day trip to Kings Dominion during the summer). Grandma Jean, raised in Buffalo, NY., lived near Niagara Falls, said the cold water didn’t bother her; and I believed that she was securely fastened within the wooden barrel with her eyes wide-open, just as I had experienced during my rides on the Rebel Yell.

Incidentally, my mother said her maternal grandmother raced down the Falls, too. Obviously, barrel racing is in my blood. So, I HAD to go to the Falls while in Canada during my freshman year in college. It was winter, and I remember staring at the body of water and thinking, “There’s no way in hell they went down the Falls!”

According to the History channel, Annie Taylor successfully plunged in 1901. From 1901-1995, 15 people went down the Falls, but ten survived. Neither my grandmother nor great-grandmother are mentioned in history.

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As I’ve advanced in my time here, I’ve found my memories shifting. I have found I remember things different now, because I’m different. I’m learning to use nueroplasticity as a way to reframe moments of stress and anxiety. Times of humiliation and wounds, which would lead me to attach something to a memory, to validate my feelings, that may have not been a reality. The memories I held onto to keep a story in a loop, has been a blessing. It led me to repair, removal and peace. The past few years I’ve been working to give myself memories - of peace, surrender and the vehicles that take me there, to let them go. Which is difficult for me, as I had spent much time trying to replace a painful memory, with a “feel good” one. Now, I try to surrender into the fullness of the experience, whether it be pain or happiness.

I don’t remember much, from childhood. But I remember every clients name and our last conversation.

Our minds are busy trying to keep pain away, which is always the easiest to remember. These days, I try to let the memory be it’s own entity, and not take up my breath in this now. Xo

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Mar 24Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Memory is a particular issue for me at the moment so this one keeps going off the rails. I know I have always had an unreliable memory. Once I was old enough to distinguish how my brain seemed to work, or not work, in comparison to others, we put it down to a head trauma I'd experienced as a toddler resulting in two weeks of amnesia. Did I write about this before? There are ways in which it is a blessing. As time goes by, I do not associate certain days with the tragedy that occured on that date because I don't really remember. While pregnant with our planned child, I sat outside of a tent at a biker rally listening to the father talk nonsense about me to the girl with whom he was kanoodling. It's escaped me what he was saying so it doesn't really hurt much any more. What I've learned is to use the tools at our disposal to preserve memories that I don't want to fade. Apart from painting portraits of my loved ones, I record morning coffee chats when I visit with Mom, make annual family calendars with our pictures throughout the previous year, and make photo books of cherished events, which I do peruse periodically.

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Apr 29Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Some say your earliest memory is formative. Mine takes place at our first address as a family, an apartment complex in Essex, Baltimore.

I don’t remember anything of the apartment itself, but I do remember a lot of smooth concrete all around.

There are two incidents that happened there, which blend into a single earliest memory.

One: I’m riding my tricycle on the sidewalk and a boy named Timmy crashes his tricycle head-on into mine, causing my silver horn with its black rubber bulb to fall off, then rides on. I’m upset about the horn but also that he doesn’t care about what he’s done.

Two: A girl, slightly older, whose name escapes me, takes my Baby Beans and tosses it down a flight of outdoor basement stairs. She dares me to retrieve it; otherwise, she’ll keep the doll for herself. I’m scared to go down those dark stairs and don’t understand why my friend is being so mean.

I have no idea how those incidents ended – what remains is the feeling of injustice and incomprehension.

There are no witnesses I can ask to verify this combined memory because back then, parents let even their little kids play outside unattended.

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