Aside fromÂ finding an answer to the always awkward “So…who gets to “keep” the mutual friends?” question every newly uncoupled duo needs to ask themselves, the most difficult part of making the transition to “single” for me has been figuring out how to categorize memories. MoreÂ specifically, are the great times you spent with your ex remembered in the same way once the relationship ends? Does that trip you took together to Rome or thatÂ unbelievableÂ birthday he threw for you still get filed under “great” in your memory banks, do you create an entirely different category to archive those memories, or do you just try your best to expel them completely?
It seems as if the answer depends on the nature of the break-up. I imagine that people who ended relationships because of serious betrayal have a tougher time thinking positively of anything that happened in the time they were in that relationship. And, even if they do have a fondness for those things, how do they deal with the fact that a fond memory was eventually found to be a complete fabrication? (An example: You found out that your trip to Rome was only possible because his mistress works for Delta and hooked him up with free plane tickets)
While I understand the sentiment behind allowing a present experience affect how you remember the past, I think doing so cheats yourself out of one of the best parts of living. Learning that the relationship itself may not have been everything you thought it was doesn’t negate theÂ authenticÂ feeling felt when those memories were created. Your joy and happiness wasn’t inauthentic; it was your genuine reaction to something good happening. And, since most relationships, even good ones, eventuallyÂ end,Â re-categorizingÂ allÂ good things that happened in relationships that eventually ended from “good” to “f*ck that shit” would ultimately leave most of us with no good memories at all.
Anyway, a couple weeks ago I wrote about the fact that the Trayvon Martin case has galvanized us in a way that, to be honest, I can’t remember happening at any other point in my lifetime. Seeing us collectively committed to righting this wrong almost makes me feel as good as the event causing us to come together makes me feel bad, and many seem to share this sentiment.
Still, despite our steadfast commitment to making damn sure our outrage is felt and our demands are heeded, the fact remains that there are still only three relevantÂ facts regarding this case:
1. Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen, was killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.
2. George Zimmerman is still free
3. Aside from Zimmerman, Martin, (maybe) a few witnesses, and God, no one knows exactly what happened that night.
Now, I’m not here today to speculate on what I think happenedÂ¹ or even what anyone else thinks happened. Instead, I want to play hypothetical for a moment and ask “What if?”Â²
What if the reckless shit some are spewing about Trayvon being the aggressor and beating Zimmerman to a pulp happens to be true?Â What if the gun accidentally went off after a struggle? What if he really was a problem child who, toÂ paraphrase the words of a dozen or so dangerouslyÂ contrarianÂ conservative columnists, “had it coming?” What if Zimmerman’s life was in real danger?
I’m asking because I wonder if would it change how we’ve felt about the last few weeks of walk-outs, petition-signing, rally-attending, hoodie-wearing, and protest-marching if any of this was found to be true. Would the outrage still be as white hot if we found out that our perception of what happened that night was completely off?Â Would the collective galvanization still feel asÂ real? Would the strides we’ve made in proving to ourselves that “yes we can actually unite behind a cause” prove to beÂ inauthentic? Would we continue to, to quote Slim Charles, “fight on that lie“?
I want to believe everything I want to believe about Trayvon, and I want to believe that even if those beliefs aren’t true, my feelings about this collective effort wouldn’t change. I’d like to think I’d follow my own advice about how not to let context cloud memories, but l desperately hope I never have to answer any of those questions.
Â¹I think thatÂ Zimmerman stalked, followed, andÂ confrontedÂ Martin and shot him in a scared panic. Cold-blooded murder? No. But, his fear speaks to the latent feeling many have towards Black males, and since this fear resulted in the death of an unarmed kid, he deserves to be behind bars. Â²Just wanted to remind everybody that writing a hypothetical “what if” doesn’t mean that I personally believe what’s stated in the hypothetical. It’s just a hypothetical, nothing more.Â
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)