My post this morning is on perspective. I was with one of my best friends and she heard me recounting a story of us from our youth in great detail and to which she remembered very little. Likewise there were some stories in her arsenal that sounded faintly familiar but only after quite some prodding and filling in blanks. Even some of the identifiers we used for supporting characters ("you know, the girl with big hair in math class") were altogether different.
How is it that two people can experience the same thing and what catches their eye and, thus, what they remember most, are completely different? The answer, of course, is perspective. It also made me wonder, for people who don't know me very well, what are my identifiers? "You know that girl who ______, _______, and ______." (Fill in three awesome adjectives.)
I was pondering all this when the debate on the debt ceiling popped back up on the radar and made me want to run down the House aisle bitch slapping everyone as I go. But then this happened:
Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made her first return since being shot and received a full bipartisan standing ovation. She put an emphasis on the vote that others could not, she's become not only a congresswoman but a character of sorts: a victim and a courageous hero--a fighter.
Seeing her immediately brought me back to that moment when she was shot. I was decorating my Christmas tree and had CNN playing in the background (yes, very holiday spirit mood-setting of me) and the breaking news came in. I sat down on the couch, watched my husband begin dialing some friends to make sure they weren't there at the shooting, and then we waited. I cried.
There are some moments where the event itself is so overpowering that there's no forgetting. The details are burned in our mind, our perspectives seem as one because we're all focusing on the exact same thing. For my parents generation everyone knows exactly where they were and what they were doing when Kennedy was assassinated, we all remember the same with 9/11, the first hurricane Katrina images we saw, and for me, Gabbie Giffords too. I suppose when something is shocking enough it grabs your attention, chokes the breath out of you, and demands to be remembered, even the bad things. I suppose that's why after 9/11 there were so many news outlets searching desperately for those stories of near misses, of the man whose car broke down and didn't get to the Towers in time for work, etc. but those aren't the stories we recall en mass.
Seeing Giffords on the House floor is an amazing chapter in that story, a footnote to the memory of that tragic day. A sign that not all shocking stories need to be bad for us to remember, the good ones stay around too.