There are many parts of my life I can’t remember and there are many reasons for that. I’d like to think of my brain as a well-organized refrigerator: I can reach in there with my eyes closed, and know where to find things. And if it’s not serving a purpose anymore, it’s just taking up space and getting in the way.
If I can’t remember what happened, did it? I used to struggle with this when I’d drink too much (it didn’t happen that often, as I recall). The scene would replay itself in the morning, when others had to fill me in. It was like a murder mystery, and I was sure to be the prime suspect.
As a control freak, it bothered me deeply that I was responsible for actions I couldn’t remember. And then I started to care less. That’s one thing I learned from my favorite high school English teacher, who had a lazy eye and a bad smoking habit. It sounded like a form of growing up: stop caring what others think about you.
I tried to track him down many years ago, but couldn’t. I don’t have any pictures, maybe some comments he wrote in papers or poems, encouraging me to write. And I remember the day he came into the drug store where I worked, asked me for a carton of Winstons, then smiled after I chided him about it and said, Someday you’ll stop caring too.
There was a girl I got set up with but her friend got in the middle of it somehow and this friend fancied being with me rather than her friend, and so one epic night I stayed on the phone with her until the sun came up, and we left the plastic mouthpiece between our mouths and the pillow, occasionally checking that the other was still there, breathing mildly erotic wishes on each other and wiping the spit off the mouthpiece. It was perfect because I liked her voice but didn’t know what she looked like, so I formed this picture of her in my mind that was…perfect.
My grand-dad had a stroke around 9/11 and my dad thinks it’s because the news got him stressed out. He retold a story about his dog Scotty, how they left the dog on the other side of the lake and drove away, and the damned dog came running after them, all that way. He told the story to us many times, but I still can’t remember the details because I was distracted by the fact that he kept telling it, and couldn’t remember he’d told us already. We pretended it was the first time, every time.
I form a picture of people through their voice, their thumbnail, their comments. People come and go, that’s life. One day they stop posting. My emails pile up in their in-box. So it goes.