unpacking 3: telling it as it isn’t?

The trouble with relying mainly on memory to remember an experience by is that, well, it may not be reliable. More so if you are an animated storyteller who relishes in impromptu side comments that could readily transform into almost-fantastical embellishments. Not lies, mind you. Creative non-fiction, if you will. You tell the stories over and over again until they erode/evolve into tales that are slightly different. I found myself in this dilemma lately in the midst of recounting to friends my US escapades.

I realize that, as a storyteller, I do not simply relay the events as they are; in the telling, I naturally incorporate just-surfaced emotions, thoughts, and details—ones that hadn’t been apparent to me at the time of the story’s occurrence. It is not uncommon then that I surprise even myself. The storytelling thus becomes a means for me to make sense of the event, whether it was one that I enjoyed—although it may not have seemed enjoyable at the time—as evidenced by the number of punch lines I come up with during the storytelling with friends; or one that I detested, in which case it does not get told as often or with equal flair as the fun ones.

Looking back at my US trip, I am tempted to wish I had taken more—hundreds more!—pictures. At least the pictures would help me “correct” my memories if they become too loaded and laced with my delayed impressions of them. But could it be that this “twisting of the truth” is not actually tainting or dishonoring the memories? On the contrary, maybe this is a way of validating the experiences, imbuing them with personal significance, and, in so doing, framing each one of them from the rest of Time for the self and others to look at.

If this is the case, I think I have enough “pictures” already of my time in the US.

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