At nine years old, I remembered with absolute clarity and could guide with conviction each and every direction needed to be taken in order to find whatever other animal my younger sisters wanted to see at the zoo. It was as if I was the hired tour guide giving out perfect directions and always being able to call with precision what animal would be around the corner. I was in charge of that zoo. It was all mine.
The amazing thing was that I had only been there one time before this trip for a few hours when I was six years old. I can remember after a few requests from my sisters to see various animals which would have taken us through a zigzag maze of directions and walk-ways, I was able to find the most efficient way to see everything they wanted to see without having to walk back and forth all of the time, while still effectively getting them to where they wanted.
Efficient and effective. Two things I strive to be, but honestly can’t lay claim to now that I approach my 30s.
Why does the above story matter? From a story stand-point, it doesn’t matter at all. In fact as a story, it is boring.
I could tell you all about how my youngest sister couldn’t stop laughing at the baby mountain goats jumping around the man made concrete mountain in their habitat, playing with each other.
I could also tell you all about my fascination over these stupid wax “Mold-O-Ramas” that I quickly built an unhealthy obsession over wanting to collect them all.
Explaining with great detail how my father may have unintentionally killed a raccoon that day would also be easy to do. I could lay out how my father threw a cigarette butt on the ground in an outdoor eating area. How in turn a raccoon there, being part of a pack of vicious little gluttons, fought for and ate this cigarette butt because they eat anything that comes from human hands- including still-lit cigarette butts.
I could also try to explain the enormous amount of pride I had in myself for leaving that day knowing that I had concurred that zoo, its site plan, and all of the twists and turns of its pathways even before entering. All because I somehow remembered the layout with such clarity from a brief trip I had a few years prior.
I could explain a lot about that day. But I won’t… even though I just did.
What the story tells me now more than anything is just how odd the brain works. At least my brain and how it works. To be even more specific- the function of the brain known as memory, and memory recall. For whatever reason, mine seems to be dysfunctional.
I have not (yet at least) been diagnosed with any sort of condition that causes memory lapse. I have no reason to believe that I suffered from any sort of trauma- physical or otherwise- during my childhood that may have been the cause for me losing out on most memories. I have never used hard drugs. I drink, but not heavily or even all that often.
Basically, I was given a brain that is incapable of working in a way where I develop strong, clear memories that I can rely on. Maybe also I never really figured out how to use it properly where I could make it function better for my life. Make me remember more. Have it recall important facts, or interesting stories when the time is right.
The unfortunate thing is that most of my memories from my childhood and even in my teenage years come from small, trivial events. I can remember with an infinite amount of clarity about a five second time span in a basketball game I was playing in when I was about 12 years old. I can remember not only where it was, what I looked like, but could even remember who was guarding me (his name was Chris- and no, I had never met him before in my life, I just remember people yelling at this poor kid to change his positioning on defense in order to cover the wing more), what he looked like, what the weather was like that day, and how the play unfolded. I can see now who was in the crowd, and what both teams reaction was to the play. It all is crystal clear.
Yet on the other hand, why can’t I remember exactly how everything unfolded when my mother finally broke the news of her having MS to us kids? Why can’t I remember my grandmother, who according to my mother I loved spending time with? Why can’t I remember what surely was an amazing sensation when I did my one and only leap off of a tower only to have a bungee chord snap me back up in the air?
Part of the reason I decided to establish this blog was to ensure that when special things happen- good, bad, happy, sad, or otherwise- I will be able to store them before my short term memory is purged and those emotions and stories are lost forever.
Much like those Mold-O-Ramas I hopelessly collected at the zoo.