The trouble with turning memories into memoirs is that when one is finished, a sneaky feeling comes along: “Things never were that way, anyway.” –Jean Negulesco (1900-93), Academy Award-winning movie director

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I’ve just finished reading Jean Negulesco’s memoir (coincidentally, he died 25 years ago today) titled THINGS I DID AND THINGS I THINK I DID. The above quote is from that book–as is his reflection on having raised, with his wife, two adopted daughters from war-torn, post-WWII Germany:

And so it starts, and so it ends. And we see ourselves in them. There is no sense in telling them, “When I was your age….” We never were their age. 

“We never were their age.” And so it is with us. We’ve never been ‘inside’ them–even our own children. When all is said and done, we’re lucky if we know ourselves–now, then or in-between–which is not to say that, along the way, we were not open to wanting whatever knowledge romance promised….

They say “You can’t go home again”–even if your old haunts still exist, your past and its ghosts stay with you, not with where you were….not so? So, where do we go?

Now, I’m as nostalgic as the next old geezer, but as my past recedes further into the past, I look at old photos, see the images of faces and places I knew, and there’s no avoiding the sense that the road between THINGS I DID AND THINGS I WISH I DID leads to a place where the sun sets before we get there.

Sooner or later, it’s all over but the doubting. It’s the place where (to paraphrase a phrase) OLD GHOSTS NEVER DIE, they….just….fade….a w a y


34 comments on “THE WAY WE WEREN’T

  1. Profound thoughts and deep reflection – a wellspring for the humor that is your trademark here at WordPress. For it is only that level of understanding and the wisdom that grows from it that can fuel a true sense of irony laced with compassion…

    Oh, and I’m taking this quote with me, as it moves me to ponder my own deep thoughts: “and there’s no avoiding the sense that the road between THINGS I DID AND THINGS I WISH I DID leads to a place where the sun sets before we get there.”

    Great stuff here, mistermuse!

    Liked by 7 people

    • mistermuse says:

      Thank you, Lisa, for taking time to comment in such a thoughtful way. I wrote this post not expecting it to appeal to all tastes, but a man does not live by humor alone–if I did, my wife would kill me (just kidding–I brought home enough bacon before I retired to keep her fat and happily recumbent most of the time).

      Liked by 2 people

  2. calmkate says:

    Agree with Lisa’s comment but fortunately I have few regrets, I tended to do what I wanted when I wanted 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Carmen says:

    That Annabelle – what a charmer! And only ten! Wow! Can definitely detect a great personality. Apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree, eh? 😉

    Speaking of such things, my husband was at a gathering one time to discuss the passing of a friend. Some comment was made about this guy having ‘climbed the ladder to a better place’. . . Or some such thing. Hubby said, “I figure where I’m going, the only thing I’ll need is a hand sled!” Ha, ha!

    Wherever it is, I’ll worry about it after I get there (although I don’t think there’ll be any ‘think’ left). 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • mistermuse says:

      Well, Carmen, at least your hubby thinks he’s going SOMEPLACE! 🙂

      As for me: I think–therefore I don’t know what to think. 😦

      As for Annabelle, talent like that needs and deserves to soar. Destination Broadway (I hope)….speaking of which, The Unsinkable Molly Brown was a Broadway show which was made into a movie starring Debbie Reynolds. Here is her “I Ain’t Down Yet” from the film:


  4. Don Frankel says:

    “The past is always with us.” Or as I like to say we are the things we did. No getting around it.

    But I do think we experience life in the past, the present and with a slight anticipation of the future. It’s just the way our minds work.

    Liked by 4 people

    • mistermuse says:

      Perhaps that’s generally true, Don–but I think with politicians, there’s more than a slight anticipation of the future. No sooner is one election over than they start calculating for the next one, even if it’s as much as six years away (in the case of U.S. senators).


  5. Always there are two sides to every story. Sometimes there is no glory!! You shared it so well!!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. scifihammy says:

    A very thoughtful post – thank you. 🙂
    It doesn’t bother me if I’m not remembering something ‘correctly’ because the memory is what I have now. And I never go back to old places, preferring my memory of them as they were. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  7. arekhill1 says:

    I always thought Hardy’s words meant your home has changed from the way you remember it, so it is never the home you left, but your interpretation works as well, Sr. Muse.

    Liked by 4 people

    • mistermuse says:

      I take “You can’t go home again” to mean that, though your old home may still be there, what you left of yourself there is gone forever….and one goes “home again” hoping in some amorphous way to recapture a piece of it. That may be ‘a bit much,’ but I prefer to think (without knowing) that it’s close(r) to what Hardy had in mind. In any case, I’m at home with your interpretation as well, Ricardo.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. restlessjo says:

    I like that quote too., and I like you being thoughtful. Often when I write posts such as yesterdays I wonder if I’m being really truthful, if I’m giving the ‘right’ impression, and if indeed, I know what the ‘right’ impression is. This can go on and on, can’t it? I’ve often thought of writing Dad’s story but reporting it accurately worries me. And no, we can’t go back but I loved that film… 🙂 🙂
    Mam was a wise old bird and she used to say ‘can’t put an old head on young shoulders’.

    Liked by 4 people

    • mistermuse says:

      Jo, your post yesterday rang true to me and, I’m sure, to everyone who read it. I hope anyone who reads this will go to it and see for themselves.

      Thanks for quoting your mam’s wise words. It’s been a long time since I heard that quote, and it was good to hear it again.


  9. Very powerful post. For me though, nostalgia represents not appreciating the past instead of wishing I did something differently. I guess nostalgia has a different meaning for each person.

    Liked by 3 people

    • mistermuse says:

      Well put, Kat. Perhaps one reason for a ‘different take’ on the past by another person would be if that person had one or more bitter experiences as a child that would make revisiting his or her childhood haunts a return to mixed memories. As you say, different meanings for different persons.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. When those moments arise the best I can do is to tell myself I did the best I could with the me I was at the time. And don’t worry, your memoirs will be “corrected” by those who disagree. My friends write their own memoirs in revenge,

    Liked by 3 people

    • mistermuse says:

      Rachel, there is much wisdom in your first sentence. No one is the same person they were when they were young–or if they are the same, they haven’t matured–and therefore, you have to let go of the regret you feel that you would do something differently if you had it to do over again.

      Regarding memoirs, I don’t plan on writing any, so there won’t be any to correct….and as for my friends, I plan on outliving them. Good luck with that, right? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. That girl, from the video you posted, is a true entertainer!

    Liked by 3 people

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