I remember the tile patterns in various bathrooms I have frequented. At my dad's apartment, I think it was, and also my cousin's nearby, and maybe my grandparents', there were these little white hexagons that made pleasing arrangements when you looked at them for long enough. And it might have been my elementary school that had tiles in a repeating combination of squares and rectangles that fit together in an interesting way, that you could re-arrange into many different interlocking shapes. Bathrooms on the West Coast mostly don't have that kind of tile. I miss it. I'm sure all that time looking at those tiles contributed to my understanding of geometry, too.
I remember the first time I wrote a paper on the computer, which was also the first time I accidentally deleted a paper, which was also, fortunately, the first time I made use of the "Undo" command. I was up late, late at night, in my mother's home office, typing away in a happy daze, and when I was done I highlighted the whole thing and accidentally hit they backspace key instead of whatever other key I had meant to hit. I was a senior in high school and the paper was about Theodore Roethke's poetry. I might still have it in my boxes somewhere, safe and sound on paper still. But there was that terrible moment, the moment when everything disappeared: all my insightful conclusions, my illustrative quotes, those graceful paragraphs. All gone--poof! Like that! And me staring at the traitor screen in mute horror.
I remember being three or four years old, sitting on the bus, looking at the funny pointy knobby things you could use to open or shut the windows. I called them kitty-cat ears because that was how they looked to me.
The other day a college friend posted a photo of herself on Facebook. We weren't such good friends that we'd made an effort to keep in touch before Facebook put me in potential touch with almost everyone I ever knew. So in my mind she is still 20 years old, doing pasteup on the college newspaper, funny and witty and flirting, maybe without knowing it, with the editor. When I saw the photo of her last week I thought with great sadness: oh! That girl is gone!
I know that girl (we called ourselves women, but now I think of us back then, fondly, as girls) is still there, inside my friend, like 4-year-old me is still inside 43-year-old me, still marveling at the kitty-cat ears. And if you believe in certain theories of time, she is still there in the common room also, still 20, still cutting and pasting and laughing and flirting. But in the regular, everyday world that I live in, that girl is as gone as the Theodore Roethke paper on my screen, and instead there is a (perfectly happy, by all appearances, I should note) middle-aged woman out there on the other side of that photo, and there is no Undo key.
Why this should make me more melancholy than my own middle age, I do not know.