I remember myself as an insomniac nine-year-old, lying sleepless in bed after my parents had turned out the lights. In those self-centered, introspective days of childhood, I hardly believed in the reality of the present. How could anything really happen? I wondered. Reality didn’t seem real until it was past, when I could turn it over in my memory and find the meaning of it. A trip to the circus, being punished by my father, the appearance of light on water—nothing became fully real for me until I could remember it and think about it.

So if I couldn’t remember it, how was it possible that my parents could actually have been married and had a life together two whole years before I even came into existence? For that matter, how was it possible that my mother could remember my own past when I couldn’t?


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