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When you were twelve there was this guy that had moved into your neighborhood a few years ago, and he was your mother's worst nightmare: smokin' cigarettes behind the house, foul mouth, juvenile hall and body odor -- the works. Thing is, he was the only one who'd talk to you out of a whole neighborhood's worth of poor-ass kids, and so you accepted him; you had to. Trying hard, you can even remember a few experiences, vaguely, a sleep-over, some super mario 3, super soaker battles in the back yard field. A little more too, some probably best left forgotten.

You also knew this kid, unholy smart and talented at most of what he tried, valedictorian material from age ten onward. You'd gone to kindergarten in the same town, then you disappeared in one last big move, but your parents stayed friends so you stayed friends too. Pity about the 45+ minutes of travel time, though, or he would have been your best friend, and the best friend you could have had. Time separates more and more though, three times a year is just about standard now. Still, memory is strong here, a hundred nights in the family's many houses, a hundred trips here and there through the flat prairie state.

One last friend from back then, she had God's Own stunning red hair, and went to your school off and on before she moved away, leaving behind another case of single parent friends. You two would record and re-record an old black cassette tape with whatever scripts and thoughts came to mind, Saturday Night Live recreated for the entertainment of the writers, if you will. Also, a whole set of hormones were coming online at once, and if memory serves, she soon placed as a close second crush after a blonde girl in gym class. Little else, though, a few hours of kool-aid and videogames, a mutual too-young interest in scrabble, and ... anything more?

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So here you are now, maybe almost the same person as you were then, or maybe as radically changed as you can convince yourself to believe. Maybe today this present you has passed a birthday, n + 1 turns about the sun, another minor or major celebration of ego. Maybe you're looking at a computer screen, or grinding through another day at work, or driving, driving. Whoever you are, whenever you are, wherever you are, you're thinking of them, or trying to, leafing through memories distorted and congealed, a rolodex dredged from a lake. There those people are, too, unclear and blurry but real and remembered, traces of their words and glances laced haphazard through the calcium gradients in your head.

But that's just it. Seeing that those most important ones who remain are plastic and ephemeral, what could possibly be left of so many others gone from your life in the ten years gone by? A reminder that that's what true forgetting is, disappearance more than just distortion. So that which you've forgotten is the real question: Which lost events, whether monumental or trivial at the time, have gone into shaping your reality? Which lost people had enough gravity to distort your orbit even slightly around them? Any and all are gone forever now, zeroed out from conscious access, huge blank tracts not one degree less disturbing for their invisibility....

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