The Persistence Of A Memory

Once I leave a city, a people, an experience, it fades. I have no use for these things because they are behind me, not with me or before me. I have always been future-focused, barreling forward with a mysterious sense of urgency to accomplish something I’ve yet to fully understand (though I feel I’m close)—one who doesn’t have time for feelings, for self-pity or drama because there is always some new idea I’d rather feed. Because of this, my long-term memory is quite poor. But some moments are cemented:

My kindergarten classmates and I sat on the floor in a circle. I scanned the circle, observing the romantic relationships and friend groups that had already begun to form when my inner voice said resolutely, “I don’t belong here.” It sounded old and already tired. Yes, I didn’t feel like I belonged in my small town, in my family, and possibly in that classroom, but this response was more existential than that—it meant I didn’t belong in this world. And I’d cry, those formative years. I’d cry and tell God I didn’t want to be here—but of course it was too late, I’d already agreed upon it and descended. 

I will never forget that moment, never stop being intrigued by the maturity of it, because that feeling has never gone away, and I know it never will. 

The writer must be universal in sympathy and an outcast by nature: only then can he see clearly.

Julian Barnes