Remembering the Little Things
I feel I was never able to forget anyone I’ve been with because each person has their own specific qualities. You can never replace anyone. What is lost is lost.
– “Before Sunset”
When relationships run their course, we cope in various ways. Some try to move forward quickly, which may result in severing ties and discarding physical evidence: letters, photographs, emails. They extinguish the past. They eradicate its significance. And that’s OK — that’s how they navigate through the pain.
Personally, I was never able to embrace that approach. I’m emotional, I attach easily, and I often view relationships through a nostalgic lens. I never wanted to forget that an individual affected my life to a certain degree. I never wanted to forget that we both existed in the same space at the same time. I’m not determined to erase memories from my mind, as if they never occurred. I hold onto the pieces and keep them, even if it’s locked away in a box, far removed from what once was. I seek closure, I move on, but I remember.
- the quirky banter that made me laugh endlessly
- the subtleties and intricacies in mannerisms
- the way the contour lines on his face formed a slight smile
- the music and lyrics that were shared
- the songs that were sung in public places when we were silly and carefree
- random anecdotes from childhood
- how his eyebrows moved in playful fashion when we finally spotted each other within the crowd
- how his voice changed its tone when relaying excitement or sadness or depth
- his hands on top of mine in the backseat of the car
- the deliciously-scented cologne that I willingly breathed in
- the simple truths that circulated between us.
If you’ve never seen “Before Sunset,” starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, I highly recommend the film. Set in Paris, the narrative revolves around a couple who fostered an incredible connection in one night when they met on a train to Vienna. (That story is beautifully showcased in the first film, “Before Sunrise.”) “Before Sunset” features the two characters meeting once more, nine years later — needless to say, life happened and circumstances changed.
One of my favorite scenes depicts the notion that maybe we do miss the little things.
“You know, I think the book I wrote in a way was like building something, so that I wouldn’t forget the details of the time that we spent together,” Jesse told Celine. “Just as a reminder that once, we really did meet. This was real. This happened.”
“I’m happy you’re saying that,” she said. “I always feel like a freak because I’m never able to move on like this … people have an affair or entire relationships; they break up and they forget. They move on like they would have changed brands of cereals. I will miss the person and the most mundane things; like, I’m obsessed with little things. I see the little details that are so specific to each of them that move me, and that I miss. You could never replace anyone, ’cause everyone is made of such beautiful, specific details.”
When relationships shift or end, some try to remove the memories: from their computer, from their photo albums, from their mind. It’s a means to deal with the heartache and uncomfortable feelings. It’s a way to meander through the hurt.
And yet, I simply could never forget. I can process my emotions and move forward, but the past does not vanish — the little things do not disappear. We may remember them and it’s OK. It’s OK to remember.
Suval, L. (2018). Remembering the Little Things. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 10, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/remembering-the-little-things/