The memory is a fickle thing

I can’t remember to turn off a light or if I’ve already asked you a question or that I put brown socks on and probably shouldn’t wear black shoes.  I can’t remember the last time I went to the washroom or that there’s leftovers in the fridge before I make a sandwich or that there are errands I’m running out of time to do.  My memory is frustratingly, infuriatingly and embarrassingly terrible. 

But I can remember what wet fish scales felt like on the palms of my hands and the prick of a fin on my finger.  I can remember what the release of pressure felt like when I freed the hook from the fish’s lip. 

I can remember the taste of the Bannock bread we made at camp over a fire.  Smokey, doughy, rustic.  I remember the smell of that exact fire and the coolness on my bottom as we sat out in the dark.

I remember the nervous feeling in my gut when I shook Princess Margaret’s hand, dressed in my Brownie garb, and told her, when asked, that we have Tweenies, not Rainbows, in Canada.  I remember knowing, even then, that that moment was pretty cool. 

I remember how different life looked when I put on my first pair of glasses in the summer between grades 5 and 6.  Things were clear, colours were more vibrant, and I could finally read that which was further than an arm’s length away. 

I can remember the smell of my first perm.  The sting of chemical curl as it singed my nose hairs and killed a brain cell or two.  I remember the smell of the water as I leaned over the bathtub and my mom rinsed the solution from my hair.  I remember the smell of the towel I buried my face into, in a feeble attempt to keep breathing. 

I remember watching Flashdance when I was four with my cousin as she babysat me.  I remember the feeling of the shag carpet (green, I think) on my feet as I curled my legs up under my t-shirt, while her and a friend sat on the couch.  I remember her friend telling me not to stretch my shirt out of shape and I remember my cousin telling her to stop being so bossy. 

I remember every sight, every sound, every taste, every smell I experienced when I was younger.  So many details that shouldn’t have been remembered, simply because they’re so menial and insignificant and inconsequential.  But now, when I try to remember simple tasks, important tasks and particulars, my mind goes blank.  It’s stuck in the past, clinging onto that which should have been forgotten, and there’s no room for now and what’s to come.

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20 thoughts on “The memory is a fickle thing

  1. Novelty aids memory and learning. As we pile up experiences, we must learn to constantly look at the world in new ways. Sadly, many do not and simply grow to accept the mundane.

  2. It’s amazing just what we retain. My mind is always full of useless information. But really, that’s the best part about life, right? The little things?

  3. I wonder why it is that we can remember those things, yet forget to pay the light bill. Who cares? I’d much rather remember what the lip gloss I was smearing on my lips smelled like as I danced like a nut to Olivia Newton John’s Physical. Oh, in case you forgot, I heart you.

  4. This is weird, my memory is the exact opposite! I can remember everything I need to do, or has been done in the near future and past, but I don’t remember all of my teacher’s names, birthday parties, friend’s last names, etc. I will lose entire years, until someone reminds me of something…and I’m like, oh yeah, I was there too, wasn’t I?
    I can tell you the contents of my fridge right now and the best before dates on everything in it…but what were our cats names growing up? Where did I go for my nineteenth birthday?
    Want to trade?

    • Dink (Yes, we had a cat named Dink), Muffin, Duffy (a combination of Dink and Muffin), Pepper, Pepper’s orange brother that I wanted to name Salt, but mom wouldn’t let me, Sammy, Simon, Coco (Beanie), Boomhauer. I don’t know where you went for your 19th birthday, though, but I don’t think that’s something your big sister SHOULD know.

  5. Perhaps you’re just remembering what’s important. Those memories you shared were meaningful, though at the time you might not have known it. I have quite a few memories like that, too. Special, perhaps, only to me, but they touch my heart and mind even today, decades later.

  6. excellent. I just wrote about a treehouse I had when i was 8 to 10 years old in remarkab le detail, yet I can’t recall my kids names or the right kind of noodles to get from the grocery store.

    I think we have a lot in common, besides being incurable smary asses. I also like the new blog look. Less is more. Good job, Jen

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