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Oh where or where has my memory gone…

September 6, 2009

I’ve reconnected with some high school friends and an old boyfriend on FaceBook recently and it’s been a real trip. Most people would say it’s been a blast from the past, or a walk down memory lane. Nope, not for me. Why you ask? Well, pretty much because most of those memories are wiped clean from my memory banks. Gone. Clean slate. So it’s kind of like going to Hawaii for the first time if you’ve never been–new, exciting, fun, and a little weird. That’s kind of how I feel talking to a lot of these folks.

For example, old boyfriend. We were hot and heavy for about 3-4 years in my 20s–on and off, mostly because we partied too much, there was probably too much alcohol involved (though in my defense, I did teach him about good wine which set him on a path to being a wine connoisseur to this day), and he needed to mature. Cheating on me was the deal breaker. He is reminding me of a lot of trips we took, places we visited that I honestly have NO MEMORY OF. AT ALL. NOTHING. NADA. It’s a little freakish. Now, I will say that the break up was painful, heartbreaking. Perhaps erasing many of those memories over time was my way of self-preservation. We broke up, had no contact, married, had children–life went on. Eventually I decided better to forgive than carry that burden of hate. It was a long time ago. So now we talk and it’s all good.

My question is–where did all those memories go? I did stuff that was fun and good with him; it’s wasn’t ALL bad. How does my mind play these tricks on me–and why?

Then there’s high school–whoa–now THAT is weird. Some things I remember with crystal clarity: trying out for cheerleader–and making it–with the tall, blonde Morman girl who could wrap any boy (or male teacher or dad) around her finger. Reading “Return of the Native” and wanting to kill myself. Memorizing all the presidents in order for a verbal quiz–miss one and I’d get an F (I passed). Crazy Coach Summers teaching biology, eating a sandwich in one hand, dissecting a frog in the other–and pretending to forget which fingers to lick. Groty, I know. My bad skin. Getting high at my boyfriend’s friend Brett’s house at lunch with my cheer and soccer team friends. When I was at my friend Heidi’s house and her neighbor Serena Lightner got killed by a drunk driver and her mother Candy Lightner started MADD.

But when I talk with my best friend Judy, whom I met in high school and is still my best friend 30 years later, she remembers SO MUCH MORE. People, especially. Now, I think that’s probably because she still lives in our hometown, married a guy that we went to high school with, and they hang out with a lot of high school people. Those folks are all still part of her universe, whereas with the exception of Judy, there is not one person that I am in touch with from my entire high school career. Not one. (Well, until recently with FB.) So it’s cool. I don’t feel quite as much of a space case about that.

I do realize I’m getting older–I’m 45. I don’t think I look 45–most people tell me I look like I’m in my 30s–I’m in decent shape physically, my weight is still fairly good, and I’ve avoided the sun most of my adult life. I eat my veges, take my vitamins, have a glass of wine a day, run around after my kids everyday, keep my mind very very busy. So WTF is up with my memories?

So I asked my shrink (I know, it’s so OC isn’t it?). Mr. Shrink, where have my memories gone? Am I getting Alzheimer’s or something? No, he said Rachel, you’re not; but if you were, how would you feel about that? (Just kidding.) Short-term memory is the first to go–long-term memory is actually what you hang on to with Alzheimer’s–what you do retain usually just depends on how much emotion you were feeling at the time, the importance you attached to those experiences, and what the outcome of those experiences were. Hmmm…that explains a lot, Mr. Shrink. (Um, sure.)

Relationships, high school experiences, : girl gets hurt, girl gets upset/mad/scared, girl moves on. Love, pain, humiliation, teasing, fun, trouble, embarrassment–no wonder there were things I wanted to forget! Perhaps it was just ALL TOO MUCH. So here’s what I’ve decided after all: maybe what stays behind isn’t so much the memory but the emotion….what the mind forgets the heart remembers and we’re left to deal with what remains.

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  1. Thanks so much for the follow! I am following you back. I look forward to checking out your blog. 🙂

  2. Anonymous permalink

    I love you Rach! We had so much fun trying out for the Cheerleeding team….and making the squad! You've always held a special place in my heart, and I
    have always loved you dearly. You've been a wonderful friend over the formative years….remember the Jr. Miss Sacramento pageant we did together? You played the piano so beautifully…”Can You Read My Mind”…the theme song from Superman. I love it, and still love it and think of you everytime I hear that song! I miss you and your wonderful family. You guys were like a second family to me. Thank you so much for all the love! Your Sun Bun, Sundi (Mohr)

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Um, it was Cari who was killed. Serena Lightner is still alive and well.

  4. Yup, Anonymous. You are correct. Just proving my point how sucky my memory truly is. Thank you.

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