I will try not to give anything important away, but there is a point in Call Me by Your Name when one character says to another, “I remember everything.” It is so moving because contained in this simple statement is the declaration that the love, even if impossible in the present moment, or in the future, is held.
People will often ask what memories I have of Korea. I don’t have many and that lack feels to me like a particular loss. But I think what often can feel like a greater loss is not having memories of me, reflected back to myself.
Remembering someone can, of course be an act of love. When I tell my son that he was born with a tuft of hair that stuck straight up off his head, or that when he was little, we dressed him in a fuzzy blue winter coat that made him look like Cookie Monster, or that the first time we took him to the beach, he didn’t want his fat little feet to touch the sand, and every time we tried to lower him, he’d fold up his legs and cry – I think these stories, perhaps, give him an insight into how we love him, how our love was expressed, how we attended to him.
The dress project started with an idea to attempt to “re-do” some element of the adoption process. That if I could “re-dress” the children who were sent from one life to another, what might I give them, what might I want them to have?
I thought I would want them to know that they were loved. And so I thought about how I could inscribe, in the fabric itself, a message of love. But this feels simplistic, non-specific. I can, after all, understand that I might have been loved as a child. I was healthy, well-cared for when I arrived. I think I might want to know – on some deeper, more subconscious level – how love might have been enacted.
That perhaps more than the statement of love, I would want the memory of having been loved:
Every day, that summer when you were two years old, we walked up and down the street where we lived and brought treats to the neighborhood dogs.
In the mornings, your brother fed you persimmon on a spoon.
You had a favorite pillow. It was blue and you carried it everywhere.
There is still a bit more dreaming to be done. But I think this is where I am headed.