• Rebecca Lerner

Dude I miss you so much :(

At what point do we move from missing someone in their entirety — the gait of their walk, how much space they take up on a couch, the way they smell — to missing the idea of them? For how many days do we have an actual idea of someone before they morph into a concept?

In the novel (and more honestly, the 2019 film adaptation by Greta Gerwig as I haven’t read it in many moons) Little Women, we spend the whole time hearing about the girls’ father, who is off fighting in the civil war. He’s the moral center of the family, guiding them to do the “right thing,” even if the right thing leads Beth to her untimely death. Spoiler alert for 1868 American classic Little Women. But then when father gets back from the war, it’s like ah… cool cool cool you’re here now. As soon as he’s really there, he becomes less of a presence in their lives. No one is getting on their moral high horse with a, “Well, father would have wanted us to.” Father was there and all he wanted to do was read philosophy in his study, I think?

Alcott was undoubtedly inspired by her troubled relationship with her own father, Amos, a transcendentalist whose dedication to his various noble causes of education reform and abolition led him to never make any money for his family, causing them to almost starve and freeze every winter. But she took that hippie and in one literary fell swoop morphed him into who she wanted him to be.

I heard once that our memory reflects who we are now more than who we were in the moment we remember. Horrifying. Or beautiful. Our recollection is a mere facsimile of a real memory — meaning if people aren’t there to defend themselves, our tricky little brains will contort, correct and change memories every time we return to the idea of someone.


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