Irreverent Mama

Sunday, December 07, 2008

This is not the post I was going to write.

I was going to write about something I overheard the other day while walking home through the park after an afternoon's Christmas shopping. A most exquisite and delightful piece of concrete irony. Two young women were chatting as they strolled toward me, and one, in all sincerity, said something to the other which was so totally at odds with their dress and demeanour as to cause a snort of appreciative laughter irony-loving me, and which gave me the seeds of a most excellent blog post. I had it all sketched out in my mind. Short and pithy, it was going to be, and in less than a hundred words I'd give any readers (I hoped) the same delightful jolt of laughter I'd just enjoyed.

I was going to write about that. I would still be writing about that ... if I could only remember what it was. But I can't. I've lost, completely and utterly, the kernel of the post. I cannot remember what the girl said.

I can remember where I was. I can remember the weather, what I was wearing, who I'd just gone shopping for, and even much of what I purchased. I know the young women's approximate ages. I can remember that what I overhead was very brief, one, perhaps two, sentences. I can remember it was totally at odds with something very obvious about them. I recall making a mental note and telling myself it would make a great blog post.

I can remember all that. I cannot remember what was said. I cannot remember what it conflicted with.

This happens all the time. It is utterly maddening.

Why, oh vagrant memory, do you torture me so? Why torment me with that sense of incompletion, why tantalize me with an almost-memory, the memory of an intention without its substance? A fusty nut with no kernel, indeed.

If my memory is going to drop the key element, why not just drop the entire damned thing?

With all the surrounding data, you'd think I'd be able to reconstruct the memory, but oh, how sadly rarely does this happen. I lay in bed in the very early morning, before I was quite awake -- the best time, I've discovered, for this sort of exercise -- and let the thoughts drift around this image, trying to hear their words again. I got close, once or twice. I had that "aha" feeling... and then, nothing.


I suppose this is better than losing it entirely. A semi-recalled conversation can be brought to mind if the other party is there to fill in the gaps. They don't even need to know there were any gaps, because I can recall enough to fake it. A semi-recalled intention can often be accomplished anyway, if enough wisps of surrounding memory lead you to the point of action.

I am not going senile. I watched my lovely grandmother slip steadily away into a smiling, peaceful senility, senility which caused this woman who was my second mother, who lived next door and whom I saw every day of my childhood and adolescence, who taught me to sew and to cook (my mother being a little domestically challenged), to now welcome me with the kindly graciousness she bestowed on all strangers. I'm not going senile, but don't think the fear hasn't run through me once in a while.

No, I'm just middle-aged forgetful. And yes, that kind of retention is to memory and overall brain function what parrotting the times tables is to higher math -- a useful skill, but low-level, and usually pretty easy to live without. I can do all sorts of high-level brain stuff: I'm creative and analytical; I can think laterally. I've developed a decent supply of wisdom, I think, which will only increase as the years go by. I'm good in a crisis, I can retain my ability to reason clearly despite massive amounts of stressors. I can separate emotion from reason, and balance the interests of both sensibly. (Try doing that one as a teen or even as a twenty-something.)

So. The old brain is ticking along just fine, thanks.

But, damn, I wish I could recall what that girl had said.

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  • oh i know, i know, i know! I do this all the time, I think of great blog ideas and then forget them and I hate the fact that I forget something but I know that I have, how can the brain remember that its forgotton something?

    By Blogger jenny, at 12:07 p.m.  

  • "How can the brain remember that it's forgotten something?" Well said! That's exactly the problem.

    Drives me MAD!

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 2:01 p.m.  

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