When I was about seven years old, I saved my little sister’s life.
I have no recollection of this.
As my sister tells it, we were swimming in the neighbor’s pool. She lost her balance? Fell off the step? She’s flailing in the water and actually starting to panic. I ever so casually (all calm and cool, you see) reach down, grab her, pull her back up to the step. Ta-da! One little sister saved!
She tells the story well. I’m sure she’s probably quite grateful. I just wished I had some sort of recollection of this.
I can remember getting in trouble in front of the entire class for failing a math test in 2nd grade. I can remember an embarrassing flub-up in 3rd grade as I led the class in saying The Pledge of Allegiance. I can even remember the “popular” ring-leader calling be a bitch in 4th grade.
But somehow, I can’t remember anything about saving my sister’s life when we were little.
A couple weekends ago, during a family dinner to celebrate my dad and The Dude’s birthday, another couple of stories were told that I had no memory of ever happening. Like babysitting trickery that I apparently pulled on one of my little brothers. By his story I learn that I had asked him to pick up some toys. He refused. I pretended to call my dad on the phone and tell on him. My brother hurried to clean up all the toys. I sent him to bed. I guess that I felt so guilty for tricking my brother, I went in his room…clearly upset. I am the George Washington of sister-babysitters and admit that I cannot tell a lie. I confess to him that I didn’t really call Dad…and that I’m so very sorry I tricked him.
I’m idiotically honest. And forgetful as all hell.
I don’t believe that I should remember every aspect of my childhood. But you would think that I would have SOME sort of memory filed away of these events. And yet. I’m beginning to wonder if I mostly save room in the memory banks for the bad things. Because I need to remember those? Because I’m only good enough to remember the bad or uncomfortable? I mean, I do have good memories plugged in. I know I do. But these fun or important stories? This isn’t the first time I don’t have any sort of memory of a story that I’m a part of.
I have no idea how to purge the memory file cabinet of the dumb, bad or uncomfortable memories. But I really want to try. I’d like to make so much more room for the great and important memories of SAVING MY SISTER’S LIFE.
And even if I completely botched it at the end, I’d really like to have the memory of me swindling my brother. That’s just too much fun to not remember.
5 Replies to “A Bad Case of the Forgets”
I think certain emotions make stronger memories. From an evolutionary perspective, anything that keeps us alive and procreating our brains are more likely to remember. Shame and embarrassment make strong memories because they teach us how to act around others (so we can one day procreate). Fear teaches us how to survive.
So, what I’m saying is, it’s not your fault you can’t remember the good stuff. You can buck evolution by choosing in the moment to focus more on the memory, but you don’t really understand that until you’re too older to remember the cool kid stuff.
I like this post because many of my strong early memories are also tied to embarrassment… so you know… I get it.
I guess I’m just so glad that I’m not the only one. Because it REALLY bothered me.
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