2.22.2009

The Memory

Memory. It’s a tricky thing. And I do mean as in we can do tricks with our memories. For instance, my friend Lee can tell you what day of the week any date falls on in a given month. He explains it away because of his absolute devotion to football. Once you know what Sunday a game falls on you can do the whole year. So, I guess that makes sense.

I know a lot of dancers and they can remember choreography. Tons of it. From years ago. Now that’s certainly a trick to non-dancers, but cake to them. My friend Dancing Jennifer, is fascinated with how the mind remembers. By the way, I call her Dancing Jennifer because she is one of the owners of Stage One Dance Studio on Cookeville. She is also directing next week’s production of the Vagina Monologues at TTU’s Backdoor Playhouse, which is done every year across the nation.

As usual, I am a fascinating case. For instance, when she teaches me choreography (we tap dance together) she now knows that there is nothing in my head. Now there are those that will argue that there never has been. But I learn choreography in bits and pieces. And then it’s put together for me by body memory. I need constant repetition. I may be able to do the steps, and I’m not talking remedial tap steps here either, but that doesn’t mean I will retain them. At first. Enough repitition and it’s all there. But I’m not actively thinking about it. Which is just plain weird. I know. She knows it too. Intriguing to her though. It probably explains my penchant for winging it.

Now when it comes to actual memorization—now we’re talkin’ my specialty. I can visualize the words and recall them. Which should come in handy soon since I haven’t even attempted to learn my parts for the Vagina Monologues. And I’m sure I’ll store it in my short-term memory.

Unlike the Latin I learned as a sophomore in high school. Dissertisime Romule nepotem. I could go on, but I know you all know your Latin and there’s no need to review. I can recall so much of my high school Latin that I had to memorize even I find it freakish.

I asked my friend Brien (www.brientravis.com) the musician how he remembered music and he says it plays in his head. Movies also play in his head. When we both have Young Frankenstein rolling in our heads at the same time we can entertain ourselves endlessly. “Would the doctor care for a brandy before retiring?…Some varm milk... perhaps? …Ovaltine?”

I asked my husband what he remembers most easily and he said bizarre trivia. He cited Ernest Borgnine’s marriage to Ethel Merman. For 32 days at that. I thought everybody knew that. Jim’s ability to recall odd trivia equals mine. It’s nice.

And yet, what I think is the trickiest thing about my memory is the random dates and just plain odd things that I remember. I remember what I wore the first day of high school. And we shall never speak of it again. I remember I first spoke to my husband Jim on a Saturday night; it was December 19, 1992. Around 8:30pm, kind of iffy on the time. I recall meeting my friend, yes, we became friends—he couldn’t help but adore me, Gray who told me he was going to college and I replied, “oh, how cute.” I already had my degree you see. So I had him fetch things for me and in return he became I high-powered radio executive. I remember a girl named Lisa needed fifteen cents in the fifth grade for a folder. She got a red one. It was raining that day. She didn’t pay me back either. She doesn’t need to now.

And yet, for all these memory tricks, I have a hard time remembering what day it is. I know it’s February. My birthday’s this month. I know that much. Seriously, that’s all I’ve got. And honestly, somedays I can’t even remember how old I am.