birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

A Time of Great Forgetting

I am told that I didn't remember my name. But there is forgetting upon forgetting, compounded here, because I have no memory of having lost my name. It's a swath of lost time. Is lost time the same as forgetting? I was on a bike, climbing surely up a hill. I was joking with my riding partner; we were celebrating the speed and ease of the new bike lanes in town. I have no memory of the fall. I remember pain, and I remember insisting I be allowed to get up off the pavement, and then it was weeks later. somewhere there were hand squeezes and somehow there was music in my head and my loved ones voices reading to me. And then my husband telling me that I had been lost to the world, almost lost to life, but I was back. And somewhere, I'm told, I was asked who I was and I had no answer, only a puzzled stare. My husband reported this to a writer friend and with the full force of his poetry he seized upon it, wrote stories about his friend who had forgotten who she was. Do we ever know who we are? That's one of those lifetime questions, isn't? We start asking when we first start addressing word to ourselves and die wondering if we ever reached a conclusion. We praise those with a strong sense of self, but I didn't know the self to be strong about. But my husband's first question to me, with our hands intertwined and our eyes meeting after day upon day of mine being closed, was "do you know who I am?" And my answer was a puzzled and warm "of course. You're Johnny." So why is it we can be so sure of another and forget ourselves? Forgive me, I forgot myself for a moment there. But I came back to myself. From time to time, the existential questions loom, and I ask if I am the same me as the one who danced with death and then opted for life's embrace. Maybe this is someone else's life, a girl's with another name, that I was handed because I didn't have my claim check for my own. But those questions come for people who have their name tags securely pinned on as well. And some people change their names two, three, four times in life.

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