I've decided to take a break from my Bitchfest Movie series of postings to touch on a subject that's been gnawing at my brain - my better-than-average memory. Alright, I will abandon the false modesty. I have an excellent memory, not for facts and figures so much as for things that I have witnessed during the course of my life. For instance, I know that a year ago today, I had a nasty cold and had to miss my friend L's dance performance. Granted, that memory wasn't so tough to recall, because she was dancing at a show that happens the day after Valentine's Day. But I also remember that I wrote a Facebook status update in which I cursed the virus and wished her well (when she stumbled across that later, she thought it was nice). I was happy that I could see her next recital on March 26th, the day my friends' twin babies were born, and I remember thinking how lucky I was to receive that phone call only moments after her performance. That was also the day that I finished reading "Great Expectations". It was a sunny, crisp, early Spring afternoon. Dan and I ate Vietnamese food before the recital.
You cannot imagine how much time I spend mentally wandering through these associated recollections*. The most obscure minutiae trigger all sorts of flashbacks. Here's an example: yesterday, I used the word "elan" in a puzzle. Every time I think of that word, I think about a very clever and charming former housemate whose figure skating team name contained the word "elan" (mind you, I knew this woman years after she had left the team). When I think of "elan", it brings up all sorts of sentiments - how my feelings toward her vacillated between frustration (like when she would try to flirt with my boyfriend in front of me) and sympathy (we experienced a common tragedy, which made us oddly close for a few months). "Elan" reminds me of all the stories she told about her old job at a cafe that I never visited, and the kind of cigarettes she smoked. I could go on, but that isn't my point. My point is that, based on these memories, I could write a little bio about a woman I have seen just once in the past decade. Obviously, I don't know her whole story, but I still know so many details.
I used to be proud of this trait. It can be an entertaining parlor trick and sometimes it's delightful to surprise an old friend with a funny "Remember when?" that they had completely forgotten. But mostly, I consider this ability a curse. As with the word "elan", it brings up at least as many unpleasant memories as happy ones. And even when recalling memories of pleasant moments spent with loved ones, I know there's an excellent chance that I'm the only one who remembers. That loneliness might be the worst thing about having this good memory.
*My blood-related family can probably understand. I think this ability is definitely a genetic inheritance.