in this museum of mirrors

“The vacancy that sat in my heart, is a space that you now hold.” Mirror by Justin Timberlake, a song I highly recommend listening to while you read this article. 

Also, a small homage to my late grandmother because this is her favorite song as we heard it during our grocery trip almost a decade ago. 🤍

Image by Petri Volanen

E.E. Scott once said, “Most days I am a museum of things I want to forget. I’m becoming more a vessel of memories than a person.” And true enough, I wish I could forget some things from cluttering my mind. Overstaying without paying rent to me. But I realize that maybe I should, instead, remember everything. Even the unpleasant memories.

Because I know, I know deep down, when I look at my grandfather, I don’t want to lose my memories or the ability to remember random things in life. It breaks my heart seeing how he struggles to remember one of us or when he forgets that we do buy or made him something to eat since he lost the love of his life in January.

And so, here I am, immortalizing a fraction of my life events in this corner of the Internet. Because I realize how much memories mean to us as we grow older.

Like a few months ago, I made a playlist with a mix of French and English songs for an online mutual who is more like a platonic friend. I thought je ne pense à toi was the exact expression I’m looking for until they– as in a French local– politely corrected my choice of words to je ne pense qu’ à toi. And boy, I wish I could disappear off the face of the Earth for a while. A ‘cute’ mistake that is forever ingrained in me.    

Yet, for my dulcinée, I also conquered my hate for broccoli during this random night over dinner– in case I would have to eat vegetarian food if I ever cross the Indian Ocean to meet them someday. Alas, my subsequent broccoli Mukbang became a domino effect in what was described as Elly’s year of eating veggies in 2022. The likes of tomatoes, eggplants, and other Malay vegetables were previously forbidden from my diet, so it was wild to imagine how much of their influence made me open to eating veggies.

Then there’s that one time when I successfully made a carrot cake for the first, and unfortunately, the last time for my ex’s birthday. They’re not my favorite cake, per se, but I’ll forever associate this flavor with him. I still carried minuscule traces of them, as much as I wish I did not, like certain texting habits from him and one of his favorite songs that still occupies my Spotify’s liked songs. But still, I wouldn’t be here getting that degree if it weren’t for him. 

Sometimes we pick up traits just by being around each other for longer than a month. Or sometimes we pick it up without a second thought because it felt just right. Then one can imagine the sheer devastation when we lose our loved ones because we’ve known them our whole lives and now suddenly we have to carry on pieces of them without stumbling once in a while.

Like the cleaning habits I picked up from my mom, sometimes the way she folds her clothes, or how I picked up her packing skills which my sister says I should get a job in logistics. . . or making this burnt sugar steamed cake exactly like my late grandmother did and refusing to eat someone else’s version of that cake because they don’t taste as good as hers or mine. Heck, I could go on with this list, how certain ways I cook, travel and more can all be traced back to these people that are or were once in my life.

Screenshot from viridianmasquerade

And just like this Tumblr post– which inspired this piece– says, “I am a mosaic of everyone I’ve ever loved, even for a heartbeat.” Everything they say is true. I am only a mirror of the people I’ve met in this museum. So when the time comes, I could mourn these artifacts or stare at them fondly. Because they were there, once, and will live in me forever. 

“. . . It was easy coming back to you once I figured it out, you were right here all along.”

Written by Elly

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