They have treatments for phantom limbs, but nowhere can I find an answer for what to do when you feel the pain of an IHOP no longer there.
The IHOP at the corner of Broadway and 21st has been gone for years, and yet today, I thought, I’m going to treat the Butcher to lunch and we will sit in one of the big sunny booths and watch the traffic go by just like we did when we first moved here.
Then, I remembered that it’s not there anymore. But today, I can see that old map of the stars’ homes that used to hang in the vestibule and hear the kitchen noises in my head as clear as day.
I’ve come to think of my memory like a vast bog and every day, I go to the edge of it and throw my valuable thoughts into it, to appease whatever lurks there. Some things end up gone forever. But often other things come to the surface, like the Tollund Man, looking so freshly dead, that I can’t believe how long ago they happened.
The Butcher teases me about having no memory. And, in some way, that’s true. He’s got the bear-trap mind and can recall names and dates and faces and roads to places I never, ever want to go again. I don’t bother to hold onto those things. As soon as I have them in my hand, I toss them away, so that no one can ask me to turn them over, to explain my relationship to them.
But sometimes, memories just erupt. I don’t know how else to explain it. It feels almost violent and I sometimes have to grab hold of my chair to keep me grounded in the present, they come bubbling out from that bog there inside me and, like a bubble bursting, whatever kept me from recalling those instances–whatever spell normally keeps my past safely shrouded from me–is gone and there those memories are. Forever afterwards accessible to me, behaving just like normal memories do, I imagine.
It’s weird, too, because they aren’t ever really memorable moments. It’s not like I lost the moment of the Butcher’s birth, only to find it later. No, they’re just ordinary moments, like a sunny day in a long-gone restaurant wasting a lunch hour with your little brother.