The checkerboard windows of a crumbling grain elevator wink and stare like spider eyes, wearily watching over the town center’s huddle of low frontier buildings. Yesterday’s storm is still heavy on the breeze well after the Colorado sun has burnt off the last puddles from the sidewalk. Main Street offers a dearth of restaurants open on a Sunday morning. But its saturation of antique shops puts urban Starbucks densities to shame. The city limit sign boasts elevation instead of population, trying simply to display the largest number from the census report. Towns like this cram deep memory into small, well-rooted residents. Towns like this are perhaps best equipped to help us remember what we forget. True to form, Ault is a town of rememberers, perhaps none so committed to that memory as Jen.
Her lament for history lost traces the spiritual grain of the antique shop she spends her days in. The smell of hay-dust and old iron sits in her shop like the musk of an old aunt who just walked through the room. This time is Jen’s home. Sepia toned memories of what the town, the state, her world, used to be, slowly stored away in the attic.
The memories aren’t always rose-colored. Thorns run up and down her recollection but don’t seem to dull her commitment to remembering. But Jen is a rememberer. Her world percolates up from the cauldron of the past.
For centuries, the Japanese have been repairing pottery by filling the cracks with gold. Each shard has its edges gilt so the pieces fit together but with every broken line traced and highlighted. It rejects a repair that hides the history of breaks we often want to cover up. Instead, it preserves the memory of the pottery and makes it stronger, more beautiful with a map of its past shatter. This is the purpose of memory when we allow it to be. It is the unique privilege of being a rememberer.