There should be a word for that apprehension we get, three weeks into a month-long holiday. That feeling of looking forward, and seeing the end.
When my family comes home there will be a slideshow. A long one. We’ll spend a good hour of our lives re-living, living vicariously. What motivates us to perform this ritual? Is it for those left at home, or for those returning? The recently bereaved.
Surely it’s to solidify our memories. The best way to remember something is to make up a story about it. By selecting which moments to show, we give them meaning, weld them into our brains. This, we declare, I will remember this.
If we forget it it’s gone.
This week there’ve been reports of the Southern Lights showing up as far north as New South Wales. Someone on the radio says this sort of thing only happens once every 11 years or so. I look out my window each night, wishing.
Driving a shipment of smoked eels through a tunnel, iTunes shuffles over to “This Is Your Life,” a song composed of clips from the movie Fight Club.
It’s been a while since I thought about that film, so as I sit in my room on a Friday night, driving my fake truck across fake Canada (oops), the lyrics are an unexpected jab to the ribs.
This is your life. Doesn’t get any better than this.
This is your life, and it’s ending. One minute at a time.
Maybe the best way to immortalise a moment is to have it be terrible. We are experts at re-living disaster. One day on our walk Tiggy starts to limp. She struggles to walk, lurching feebly along the pavement. I carry her home, alarm bells ringing. I imagine the trip to the vet, the waiting. Paperwork. I’m not prepared.
When we get home I look at her paw, and notice a piece of foot that… isn’t. I pick at it and it comes loose, rolling – caked in mud and grease – into my palm. A seed pod, pinky fingernail size, lodged in both front paws. I let her go and she starts dancing down the hallway, fast and energetic. She’s fine.
Later I pull a U-turn on the highway.
Music is another great way of connecting to memory. A song can take us back to the time when we first heard it, particularly – I find – when the mood of the music matches our own at the time.
What have my family been listening to this month? Will it affect how they remember this place? Themselves?
Of course there’s another school of thought, arguing that spending all your time archiving your experiences removes you from said experiences. In order to take a photo you have to not be in it, and so on.
Maybe they’re right. After all, isn’t trying to preserve a moment inherently futile? Our photos won’t last, and neither will we.
On a school trip to New York, our bus driver pulls up the intercom.
Take one last look, he says, the city rolling by across the river. We lean into the windows, trying to soak up every millilitre of light. We hold on tightly, for as long as we can, but the bus rolls on.
Later Someone Like You comes on the radio – again. We sing along, and when we look back it’ll seem kinda goofy, but for now we sing from our hearts.
The themes I choose each week become self-fulfilling prophecies. Once I had the idea to write about aliens, I saw them everywhere. Go for a walk with the express purpose of photographing a certain colour and you will see that colour in places you never would have otherwise.
Maybe we’re not just archiving, when we document our travels, but experiencing a heightened awareness. Crafting our stories as we live them. It’s an easy kind of magic: Wishing, and then filtering reality to make that wish come true.
If we can’t find any Southern Lights, maybe we’ll just have to make some.
We can’t remember forever, but equally I’m not sure we can live forever ‘in the now’. It’s for the same reason we can’t live every moment like it’s our last. There’s just not enough energy in the world. We need down time. Time to reflect, to re-watch old movies. To drive our totally real truck to Saskatchewan or wherever.
The entry’s almost over, and the aurora has not appeared. Maybe I started too late in the week. Time’s been slipping away recently.
Maybe the person reading this could succeed where I failed. Carry the torch, so to speak. Just keep an eye out, skywards. Even though the end is coming, winter’s not over yet. You might see something.
However, this is the final entry in Eurotruck Diaries. This time next week my family will already be home, and my search ended. Hopefully I’ll find them before they board their plane, as I do have one last surprise in store… But in terms of this blog, yeah, we’re done.
I’ve had fun doing this. It’s been nice to weave myself into a narrative. Suddenly events have meaning. But I’m tempted to ask: would I have been better off spending this time talking to people? Catching up on the media backlog? Reading?
Would I have been more immersed in my truck adventures if I hadn’t stopped every few minutes to take photos?
Did it work? What do I remember from this month?
Well, here comes July!