Jan 25, 2011

If You Say So

I have a really bad memory.  Anybody who knows me would back me up on this one.  Sometimes I call myself absent minded but that's only because it makes me feel like I have a good excuse to forget things.   Like there's so much going on in my head I can't cram it all in there.  I'm not selective either.  I'll forget people, events, places, appointments, facts.....  whole episodes of my life.  I wonder sometimes if other people experience memories the same way I do.

Some memories are so crystal clear.  I could close my eyes and be taken back to that moment in time.  Remembering the sights, exactly what was said, someone's tone of voice or a facial expression. Most surprising of all, these memories bring back the feelings, both good and bad.   Life changing moments like the first time I held both of my children in my arms.  Or the first time I laid eyes on my husband.  The time I sat holding my uncle's hand as he lay dying.  

Sometimes I wonder if some of my memories are only there because someone captured a picture of that moment.  I clearly remember cutting my sister's bangs when she was five and and I was nine.  No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get them even. I kept cutting them shorter and shorter until my mother finally intervened.  My shortlived career as a pre-teen hair stylist was memorialized in her school picture the next day.

I remember more details than just the haircut.  I sat her in a chair in the backyard while I chopped at her bangs with the dull kitchen scissors.  I put a towel around her shoulders to catch the hair.  I even remember it was a blue towel with flowers on it that my mother got out of a box of laundry detergent.   Is it the picture that solidifed those memories?  Every time we pull out my sister's kindergarten picture the story is retold.  How could I ever forget it?  Or was it my mother's anger that cemented this memory in my brain?  Why this memory above so many other forgotten moments?

Sometimes a memory is nothing more than a flash.  I have a picture in my head of myself up on the roof of my neighbors garage with all the neighbor kids trying to coax me to come down.  A big tree is just within my reach but the two inch gap looms like the Grand Canyon in front of me. I had to have been three based on where we were living at the time.  I don't remember getting up on the roof and I'm not sure how I got down either.  I  remember the terror I felt though. 

Most troubling of all is when I can't remember something that somebody else remembers so clearly.  A friend saying "Hey remember the time we......." and I have no flipping clue what they are talking about.  Could have been something from high school or it could have happened only a few years back.  I'm also ashamed to admit that a good 20% of my high school facebook friends are people I only think I know.  I really don't remember them.  They have the same friends I do.  The name seems familiar.  But if my life depended on it I couldn't recount one single conversation I had ever had with them. 

It sometimes seems as if I'm racing through my life leaving behind key pieces of it.    It's very unsettling. 


  1. What a strange thing you suffer/enjoy! Do you suppose it's ... well, a gift to yourself? You register so much, so many details - even someone who doesn't know you knows this. Maybe your mind is doing some good filtering for you.

    (It's really fun to find you still blogging!)

  2. Booda - I never looked at it that way before. Not so unsettling to think I'm just wired a little differently.

  3. I have that same problem with Facebook friends from high school - and there were only 48 people in my year.

    My friend Steve tells me all sort of amazing stories about things we did in college. For all I know he's fabricating them for his own entertainment.

  4. Alice: That makes me feel better. There were nearly 700 in my graduating class. Maybe they don't really know me either, just a name to collect on the friend list.

  5. Its all still in there just we can't handle it all...how many seconds in a life? How can you remember everything? Maybe as we get older the memories of things forgotten will drift back - but also there is so much input these days - I also wonder did the photo prompt the memory? But there are things there were no photos for I remember with amazing clarity - who knows...we are all like this

  6. MC - Glad to know I'm not the only one who struggles to remember. I'm surprised to hear it from you though. Reading your blog your memories are so beautifully written it takes the reader along with you. I think you may be right about memories coming back as we get older. Lately a memory will hit me out of the blue as if it only just happened.