I've always been one who collects things. All the 50 books of the same collection when I was seven, the articles about Harry Potter when the first film of the series came out, the tickets of those Saturday nights with my father at the cinema during the middle school. But the collection I care more about it's different. It can not be hold in an hand. It can not be read, or browsed. I can't hang it up on my bedroom's walls or order it in a binder. Because I collect memories, my mother's memories.
I don't know much of her childhood and adolescence. I know she was born in a town in southern Italy where we return sometimes to visit my grandmother's siblings and their families, and that after a while she moved to the village where we still live. I know she married three months before her twentieth birthday and everyone thought it was because she was pregnant, but my brother arrived only two years later. She doesn't like to talk about her past, not with me at least. Yet, every now and then, she lets slip a memory. She doesn't know that, but I collect them, all those words escaped in a moment of nostalgia. Sometimes when I can't sleep, I find myself repeating them inside me, one after the other. Sometimes I arrange them in what I think is the exact chronological order.
When on holiday with the camper one of their cats got lost and her mother found him a year later in the same place.
When a teacher liked one of her essays so much that forced her to read it in front of the classmates and in front of the kids of the fifth grade, her brother's class, and she was very embarrassed.
That at school she never raised her hand, even when she knew the right answer.
The rag doll she sewed on her own.
When at 13 years old she cut her long long braid and her father didn't speak to her for three weeks.
When her father cut his red long bear and she didn’t recognize him.
That she used to go from her house to the center and back walking, in the same place where now there are only buildings, collecting seeds and herbs.
When she took her father's and brother's old trousers and adjusted them for herself.
That when her mother cooked steaks she prepared for herself omelette and vegetables.
When in high school she used to skive off school and spend the mornings around the city with a friend.
That she became friend with the doorman to enter the disco free.
Other times, I see all these scenes in front of me, as I were watching a Sofia Coppola's film. I see her sullen expression even on her sixth birthday, as in one of the black and white photos I found in a box. I see her dressed as a Chinese girl in the costume that she sewed for Carnival at 12 years old with the parasol we still have, somewhere. I see her walking on a field with her light brown hair, dyed blond since two decades now, slightly moved by the wind, her hands on the top of the tall plants around there. I see her dancing with her eyes closed in a large crowded room on a Spandau Ballet' song (she preferred them to the Duran Duran, I know that too).
All those memories, all those moments that have never been my memories, form the most important collection I have.