remembering consciousness

inspired by the following piece from my history:

the other day, a friend asked me about this artist.
who’s that, i asked her, confused about why she thought i’d know him.
he inspired you, J, she hollered in disbelief, and after you introduced me to him, I did too.
i’d made this “remix” inspired by him.
i don’t remember his name.

As i searched for this, hidden amidst all the crap i’ve hoarded over the years, i found a beautiful love letter that i don’t remember getting.
Along with a love poem with a sketch i don’t remember writing.
i don’t remember much about the people at the other end of these, just a vague knowing that they existed.

maybe i have a bad memory. or maybe
i am losing words
like Ray Bradbury. that is a reference to a Neil Gaiman poem that i seem to remember almost in full.
and i remember what the grass smelled like when i heard it, waiting for somebody.
so maybe it isn’t memory.

i don’t remember being in love, but i feel pretty sure i have been.
what if i never really was in love?
i would have remembered if i was right?
but i do remember feeling like I was.
was that love? is this a phantom memory?

how does one verify something like that?
for someone who lives and thrives and crumbles in the abstract,
how do I measure what’s real and what isn’t?
how do you clarify and confirm when you no longer know which sources of wisdom, which hearts of love you believe
and when every time you do believe, you gaslight yourself out of it.
how do you know if you are being gaslit or
if you are just plain wrong?

i think i love myself for the first time, i told a friend the other day. like the i wear my ugly chaddies and dig my nose and melt into a mess in front of you like of love.
i remember saying that, and the poem that was written after, the words of which i cannot remember writing, i know what that felt like and that feels real.
i don’t remember love, but somehow,
the theater kid in my body who identifies emotional feelings cognitively through what lights up in my body somatically,
it is like a retired light bulb that just goes on out of habit, extinguishing immediately, lighting nothing, but it still works.
just the way my muscles, like driving or swimming, remember to breathe.
PS. i cannot swim.

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