The Eternal Sunshine of My Spotless Mind

By Mary Stathos


“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d”

What if I could forget how you liked your coffee? And the mornings we spent together in your bed drinking it. Would I be happier?

The last time I saw you, you were driving me home from the hospital. You sat with me in a café and did crossword puzzles with me. You wouldn’t even come inside. You told me you’d be my friend but you never even called me again.

I can’t imagine having to collect the things that remind me of you. What could I possibly keep. You’ve embedded yourself into every corner of my brain. I think of how my cats would snuggle up to you in the winter under all seven of my blankets. Could I keep any of that and still be happy?

When Joel hid Clementine in the memories that were free of her all I could think about was how I would never do that for you.

I remember the first night that I stayed at your house. We stayed up all night and you told me about how much you loved America. We were both drunk and talking nonsense. For a long time it was a fond memory but looking back on it, it means nothing to have it. It doesn’t make me happy anymore. 

When we look back on memories, they get tainted with the good things. The movie opens with so much fighting, it reminded me of us. Then when Joel went to sleep to forget, all he could remember was the good. He didn’t want to forget the good, it made him feel like the whole relationship was worth it. 

I remember the waiter at the place we used to get breakfast. He never remembered to give us water and sometimes he brought the wrong type of hot sauce. We got blissfully ignored. I’d like to blissfully forget it. 

I don’t think forgetting people should be so hard. 

Maybe if I part my hair different I won’t think about how you used to say you like my haircut. 

I could rearrange my room so it never looks like the one you slept in.

Why do we feel like we should look past the bad in people because of a handful of good memories? They’re still there even if we pretend they aren’t. I would rather forget all of the mornings we got dim sum than look back and regret losing you.

Would I be happier if I didn’t have pictures of you on my phone coming up in my memories every day? 

If I forgot the morning that you left my apartment and then called me on the phone to break up with me, would I stop being so sad all the time?

Maybe I should make a tape of all of the reasons I don’t like you, too.

I’m sorry that I yelled at you and told you that I hated you while I was standing in front of your car. But if I stopped remembering that, I think I would feel like a better person. 

I don’t know what any of this was supposed to teach me. If everything happens for a reason then why did I want to kill myself? What did I learn from that?

Joel and Clementine were codependent too, that’s not a love story. It’s just a story about two people who needed therapy and needed to move on, just like us. 

I tried photoshopping you out of pictures. It didn’t make me feel any better because I can still remember that you were there.

Six months after you broke up with me you called me your girlfriend at your family reunion. I’d like to forget that. The only thing that taught me was that you were afraid to say that you weren’t really my friend. I wouldn’t have to learn that if I couldn’t remember you.

If we ever meet again, even if I don’t remember you, I don’t think I would like you. 

I still have some of your clothes. They don’t remind me of you anymore and I am happier wearing them now that they feel like mine. 

The whole movie makes it seem like forgetting is a bad thing. Like we should work things out and go back to the people who hurt us and who forgot us, too. I think everyone should just forget. We’d all be happier.

Sometimes I look for your car while I am driving. It isn’t because I want to see you, it’s because I don’t want you to see me, I don’t want you to see that I am better now. I won’t go back to the places we went together. I don’t want to see you there. 

I’d like to think that a day will come where I forget your license plate number, and the way you like your coffee. And if I heard a tape talking about how much I used to love you after I forgot about you, I’d like to think I would throw it right in the trash.


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