Train stations I have seen: Cologne, Brussels, Rotterdam, Alfreton.
This is the song I've been listening to since I've come home.
Fair warning to anyone who reads this: The following is a product of lack of sleep, euphoria and a terrible habit of mixing my metaphors.
Yesterday I was on a train to London, contemplating the past week or so, when I realised that there's an obvious problem with using a device like a Pensieve. (Let's just pretend for a moment that it's real. Non Harry Potter readers, I'm talking about this.) It's quite simple, really - memories aren't either pure, or have been meddled with.
In fact, they are always tainted or tinted, by other experiences or nostalgia. They are shaped by the narrative we force upon them, the stories we tell our friends and the confessional notes we scribble into journals. A wonderful, unique moment is gone in an instant, as per definition. If it is retrieved however, looked at again, it can never take the shape of those neat and orderly scenes encountered by Harry Potter when he dives into the Pensieve. We know that. Historians have tried to either ignore that fact or work around it for ages.
But still, it is a dilemma. I'd love to keep the memory of certain moments safe, like an old photograph hidden in a dark place so as to keep it from aging. This means keeping it locked up, not sharing it: The more you look at the picture, the more fragile it gets. And the more you talk about moments, share them with others, the more they turn into a story - until you can only remember them with the words you use to describe them with. And of course words aren't all that accurate.
It's similar to something I discovered when I (finally) met my friend Q again and we talked about the last time we had seen each other: Our memory was shaped by the photographs we had taken. It is confined to the limits we imposed on it.
Basically, I am facing quite a simple question: Is it better not to take any pictures? And, even more importantly: Should you avoid talking or writing about precious moments? Your memory will remain in the solitary confinement of your brain, undisturbed, it won't turn into a story that loses its depth of feeling after having been told for the third, fourth, fifth time. It will, however, be all the more prone to merge with illusions, what if's, daydreams, wishful thinking, until the original is changed, until it's hard to tell what actually happened. And one day, you'll forget about it, forget what it meant to you that day, the immediacy will be gone.
In the end, what happens is this: You sit on a train, and then later you're at Heathrow and it's six in the morning. Instead of writing down what has happened, events, people, places that have had an impact on your life, instead of facing the dilemma of turning your feelings into nothing more but words and a story because you want to keep at least a part of them alive forever... instead of doing that, you just write about what a strange thing memory is. Contemplating what has actually happened seems like a task you can't face right now.
You talk to your friend Martin who wisely says, "You're overthinking this, aren't you?"
Already, nostalgia has set in.
Later, you'll board a plane. You come home and, half-convinced that you must have been dreaming, you tell your friend all about it, just to confirm to yourself that things have happened. The moment is gone, tainted, mixed with longing and regret, just a memory, bound to fade. Only wizards and robots know how to keep them pure.