Where in the World is My Memory?
Trying to remember key moments in my life is like trying to find Waldo.
“Remember when we were in Big Sur?” That was the question asked of me by Nancy, my lifelong friend and frequent traveling companion. “Nope,” I responded. “You never remember anything,” she exclaimed in frustration.
She went on to tell me that we slept in our car during our trip there. No memory of the event whatsoever. I have a lot of those blank holes in my memory. I told Nancy that I am grateful to have her in my life so she can remind me of things we did together. I’m a visual kind-of girl; I need a picture in hand or an entry in my journal to help me recall things in my past. With visual aids the memory is seared into my mind and I then have easy recall. Otherwise memories are lost to me.
I decided to test myself and over the last few days I tried to recall certain events of my life; ones that I have been reminded of and ones I know should have made a lasting impression.
For example, after my freshman year of high school, my grandmother and I moved from the house in Clarence, New York to her farm in Corfu. All I remember is how upset I was to be moving from Clarence, where we’d lived since I was in first grade, taking me away from my familiar. I was a stomping teenager who thought the worst thing EVER! was happening to her. What I have no recollection of is the packing up of the old house, the move itself, or getting settled in at the farm. I tried and tried to retrace those steps but........ nothing. Moving is supposed to be one of the most stressful, thus memorable events in one’s life, but I don’t remember how it took place at all. Maybe because, being the “kid” I was, my grandmother did all the work herself and I just was a passenger along the way.
I can recall with perfect clarity the many moves I made on my own; from Corfu to Spokane to Simi Valley and then Moorpark. From there on to Jacksonville, Oregon, then back to Moorpark; then, Las Vegas to Oakfield to Las Vegas to Attica to Las Vegas. I’ve moved a lot in my life, haven’t I? And I can recall the experiences of each of those moves. Where was I then when we moved from Clarence to Corfu?
The above is just one example of the many moments I can’t put a finger on and wish that I could. Seems they've made their way into that black hole.
The old memories are getting boring and I want to relive some fresh ones now.
What was the first day like in that new school at Pembroke High School? I don’t remember that but I do remember the moment when Diane Duken became my high school best friend. I can recall where we were and what we talked about.
Something I am extremely curious about is those first years, from age one and up when my brothers and I went to live with our grandmother and her children that still lived at home. My parents were both dead; it must have been a grief-filled home, but I wonder how I was cared for. Did my big brothers play with me? When did I start walking? How did I come to call my grandmother, “Mommy?” I was told that while my grandmother went to work, some 40 miles away in Buffalo, I was cared for by the neighbor across the street. I was told I loved sitting in a red velvet chair while there, but wish I could know more.
Perhaps that is why I spend so much time chronicling now. Perhaps that was one of the reasons I chose the career path I have: archeologist (literally digging up the past) and oral historian (documenting life stories for the historical record).
This is such an important issue for me that I have made sure my three grandchildren will know the particulars of their early life by filling in memories in journals I began writing in from the first day of their lives To Aiden, With Love). At least they will have something to refer to when they have those profound questions.
As for me, I’ll just keep asking those that I’ve known all my life to fill in the blanks!