Monday, July 5, 2010

The Things We Almost Forget

I've recently had a few incidents of what may be early-onset dementia. There have been brief glimpses of something that triggered a long forgotten memory. It's like mental whiplash.

This afternoon I saw a guy on a motorcycle. I've seen people on bikes probably every day for the last three months but for some reason, today's biker lead me down the "I wonder if I might like to ride on a motorcycle...?" path.

All of a sudden, and only for an instant, I flashed back 20 years. I was speeding across the Williamstown bridge in Jason Burfield's car. We may or may not have been going over 100. I can neither confirm or deny. I had that top-of-the-roller-coaster feeling - thrilling and intensely nauseous.

And - BOOM - I was back. In a millisecond I had had that memory and was back with my definitive answer: No, I would NOT like to ride on a motorcycle.

This is a memory that I had no idea was retained. A memory I literally hadn't thought about for 20 years. It was like it was on the verge of being forgotten until I saw the motorcycle and then it came slamming to the front of my brain. There have been several of these almost-forgotten memories lately, and I find it disconcerting.

Is it my age, the nostalgia for my teens and early 20s, that is yanking me headlong into these memories? Is there some kind of connection I am missing that links to the thing I am viewing and the memory and emotion that comes with it? Am I losing my mind?

I have no idea, but it is weird.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

It is my belief that our minds retain everything we have seen, heard, thought, experienced, tasted (YUM!), and that what we think of as memory is also our ability to retrieve that information. I certainly don't claim to understand the complexities, but find it delightful that I can remember things which seem so inconsequential, often at random times (never when I am trying to remember, of course) and yet can't always remember the things which I make such an effort to emblazen on my brain. I definitely do better remembering things when not trying as hard (let it go, mull it over, etc.)

I can remember when we told each other we were changing schools and found out that we were both going to St. Mary's. I remember recess in first grade in Michigan and Paul who was a Star Wars fanatic. Past events pop up and remind me that it's all in there, somewhere.

On the other hand, I am completely unable to remember any semblance of grocery lists, often forget appointments and occasions, and wouldn't remember if I had taken my medicine if I didn't have one of those big pill boxes with the days on it. Oy vey. This is 37??