The unreliability of memory*

Possibly the cafe, possibly not.
Possibly the cafe, possibly not. (Image via Google street view, with adjustments)

Since January 1st, I’ve been writing a few lines each day in a book. To remember things, to have something for comparison in future. It’s occurred to me many times how imprecise memory is. Each time we recall something (accurately or not), it reinforces the memory. Then you look back at a bit of writing or correspondence, and you feel betrayed by your own mind if the facts don’t align.

There was a cafe in the 10th where Zac and I had our first breakfast. It was run by a couple of elderly men, had a mural on the rear wall. It’s a place I think my dad would totally dig; charming, very unmodern. We had jambon et fromage omelettes with salads and practically an entire baguette for 5 euros apiece. We tried to find it again another day and couldn’t.

Today I looked for the photo I’d taken in it of sunlight hitting the mural, but no such photo exists. Now I can’t recall whether I only thought of taking the photo, or took it and deleted it later. Naturally, I went down a rabbit hole searching Google street view (as any sane person would). I may have found it, but won’t be certain unless I find it in Paris. A silly quest for a city I’ll have only a short time in, but sometimes life calls for a silly quest.

Speaking of, I’ve finished booking trains and accommodations for the upcoming trip, including a fantastique duplex in the (north) 11th in Paris. I was surprised at how inexpensive it was. I know it’s partly down to the time of year, but can’t help wondering if the attacks in November had an influence as well.


*An upside of memory’s imprecise nature is that a memory can be far more beautiful than the event it represents; often is.It’s what gives memories that golden cast, as in super 8 movies shot indoors at holidays or birthdays. A downside is that same mechanism can have the inverse effect as well.

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