At my new job I’ve been introduced to quite a few new people (as you might imagine) but the one who stands out the most is Ali the archivist. Ali the Archivist–to me she sounds like a superhero (one with short blonde bangs, and baggy sweaters, and black boots). In a way she is; it’s my understanding that Ali works her way through the old files of designers and editors galore (iterations, editions, whatever is available) and digitally organizes them on appropriate servers, in a decided hierarchy of folders, with certain naming conventions. With all of this, it amazed me that she could respond to my email so quickly, and with the exact location of a file that hadn’t yet been archived. It amazed me too when she mentioned at a department gathering that she has an art show at the moment and her work is collage, which seems to me to be the opposite of what she does all day. Perhaps that’s why.
My commute to work is about forty minutes, the latter half I spend walking a mile down Second Street and talking on the phone to my mom who, due the time difference, is on her lunch break as I am heading into the office (and when I say office, I mean beautifully renovated warehouse). The first half though, I spend on a train, or a light rail rather, I’m still not exactly sure what it is. All I know is that it picks me up close to this temporary home and takes me where I need to be. Luckily if I time my departure correctly, I am able to snag a seat and allow my mind to wander as morning city scenes roll past me, and I past them. It dawned on me the other day that what I do, and perhaps you too, in these moments of quiet, still (except moving) reflection is archive, like Ali. I archive my thoughts and memories and feelings in such a way in my mind so that I won’t feel like my brain will explode as I relive my entire life and think every thought in a split second. I process, name, place things away. It’s absolutely critical. I’ve spent hours of my life this way, usually unaware, which results in me being late for plans, my shower turning from hot to cold, and sometimes my dinner too. But on this morning travel route the time is allotted for me. I know when the bell dings and the doors open at my station it’s time to live in the present again.
At a new church this morning (I am in my new city, Goldilocks stage), the minister spoke about the complexities of forgiveness. She asked us to recall a time in our childhood when we were caught with our hand in the figurative cookie jar and how our parents responded. Instantly I found in my archive the time, at maybe four years old, that I cut off my long honey hair into a short, jagged bob with safety scissors and shoved the fallings underneath the coffee table. My mom, who was sick in bed with a fever at the time, just touched the top of my head when she saw me and said, “Oh, Kelsey.” I remembered being scared to show her, but relieved when I did, because she instantly forgave me. There are so many times like that, filed away under “The Kind of Mom I Want to Be.”
Because of my tendency to relive moments of my life, I’ve always found the phenomenon of déjà vu amazing and unsettling. How, how can I feel like I’ve been here, done this, seen that, felt the feeling I’m feeling before when I know for certain that I haven’t. I know my archive isn’t perfect. A dear childhood friend of mine sometimes tells stories of us that I have no recollection of, and admittedly sometimes, even recently, I’ve remembered things the way I wanted to because it made me feel better. But déjà vu is a different sensation. It’s not being told a story you’ve forgotten or fabricating a memory. It’s often generated by something mundane and more or less unmemorable, the moment when you’re behind your own blink. And I think, I think that I know that it’s life’s way of telling you that you were made for this moment, that you are prepared for right now, that you and your archive are plenty.