I was reading it last night when I came across this that made me pause:
...those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming... this: the past is not dead. - Neil Gaiman: Trigger Warning, 2015, location 78I read it and thought that it was profoundly true, and that I like statements that start with 'this:'. I could then think of not one single example.
And then this morning on Timehop I came across a video I'd shared with a friend when talking about Nick, who is in it. It's a little bit from the film Human Traffic, with Nick starring as Herbie, a gormless young man with a spliff. Don't watch it if drugs and swearing aren't OK for you.
Nick was born on the same day as me. We talked this fact over and concluded it must mean we were somehow mystically connected. I can't remember where Nick moved from, but he moved into my home town, and into my old house, which my parents had left when they split up. This was more proof of our mystical connection.
Nick was unusual, and did a variety of classes at school to enable him to focus on the things that he was interested in. I was very jealous about the freedom he was allowed with the timetable.
When we left school Nick got into photography and music, setting up his own record label. He also did some acting, like in Human Traffic. I am afraid I don't know anything about that.
I knew the Nick that turned up feeling shaky on a Sunday morning, and took me up for a walk on the moors to tell me everything he was thinking. It was a beautiful day. The bracken was high and green and we crawled about looking for snakes.
I also knew the Nick who bounced up and down on the train as if it was moving, before it had left the station, and the Nick who took drugs in front of my baby sister. I was not best pleased with that Nick.
I lectured Nick about drugs the last time I saw him. I don't know why, it wasn't like he was going to change who he was just because I had a go, but I wasn't going to change who I was either.
Seeing him in the video this morning, for a moment I forgot that Nick died ten years ago. I wasn't around at the time. I'd got married, moved to Scotland, and started a family. I didn't find out until long after. We weren't that close, but I am sad anyway. I wish Nick could have had more of a chance to fulfill his potential. I wish the last thing I had said wasn't narky.
|Nick with friends|
I feel guilty for talking about Nick who has no right to reply. I feel guilty for not talking about the other friends of mine who have died, and whom I also miss. I feel guilty for not being a better friend, and I feel guilty for using all my experiences to write.
And this: the past is not dead. We are always making, remaking, remembering, and dismembering it. As a writer I take it to pieces and stick it back together again with a different head. The past changes depending on the stories we tell. The past is not dead. But Nick is.