I distinctly remember emus. I remember their big black eyes and long legs. I remember their bad tempers, loud voices, and how they would charge and break at us through the fence. I remember the emus, but no one in the family ever talked about them.
That’s not something you don’t talk about. I mean, how many people in Houston live next to emus? After a few years I started to think that I had just dreamt about emus as a kid until my sister also mentioned them. Then we started to think that we shared some bizarre hallucination until one day, ten years later, we were sitting in the kitchen talking about it and Mom finally confirmed the existence of these weird birds, that the neighbors raised them and sold them when we were five-years-old. She had forgotten about them until we mentioned it.
Memory is weird like that. Mom had forgotten all about those funny, ugly birds that taunted my sister and I for a decade. It was so strange to realize that something that was such an oddly distinct part of our childhood, was barely a bleep on the radar in our mother’s adult life. Memory is complicated: varying degrees of detail and significance between different people about the same event.