I saw a TED Talk yesterday and they posed the question, “What do you remember?” It’s an interesting question, because it wasn’t the usual “What do you want to remember?” or “How do you want to be remembered?” or any of those iterations that put free will into it. “What do you remember?” is an entirely different thing.
I remember things like my best friend’s phone number from when I was six. (628-1336) I remember the phone number of the Sarasota chapter of MADD because I loved it when I saw it on a mailing once when I was down there. (342-4242.)
I remember the way the blue nightlight looked through the steam of my humidifier when I was 4 and had mumps. I remember the color of the sky when I was floating in the ocean for a long time on an uncharacteristically calm day years ago.
I remember a dream I had where I took a bottle of wine off of a shelf. It had a screw top which fell off and there was only about an inch of wine left and I didn’t know why I had saved the bottle in the first place. I don’t have any idea why that dream, of all the millions I must have had by this point, is the one I remember.
I remember one time at the height of allergy season when I sneezed and gobs of stuff came out of my nose on to everything – my hands, my shirt, the table. There was no graceful way to deal with it and my boyfriend just laughed and said, “I love you.”
I remember the best Valentine’s Day gift I ever got, but not much around the circumstances of receiving it. It’s a small Whitman’s Sampler. When you open it up, the ‘chocolate’ is actually Walt Whitman quotes. Amazing. Incidentally, I remember going to see Walt Whitman’s house when I was a child, but not as vividly as Teddy Roosevelt’s home, which I remember so much that, even now, I think I could actually give the tour myself. I also remember the runner-up favorite Valentine’s Day gift. It’s a rock which is shaped like a heart, naturally, and was found by the person who gave it to me. Should the Whitman’s Sampler not be able to fulfill its duties as Favorite Valentine’s Day gift, this rock could easily step in.
Last year around Valentine’s Day, I was in what I thought was the beginning of a long-distance flirtation with someone but, as it turns out, it was near the end of it. I wanted to do something fun and romantic but not necessarily Valentine’s Day specific, so I chose President’s Day. I thought it would be amazing for us to meet in what I decided was the dead middle between us: Lincoln, Nebraska. How awesome would it be to celebrate President’s Day in Lincoln? It was goofy and spontaneous and I made a little invitation that looked like this:
It was met with crazy pragmatism. “I could fly to New York twice for the amount of money that going to Lincoln, Nebraska would be.” Um, yeah. I remember that.
Sometimes I remember that I’ve forgotten really important events or people I’ve loved and that concerns me. I don’t understand memory. I wonder if you can control it. I don’t think you can. I don’t even remember what the focus was in the talk yesterday when they asked that question. And that was not even 24 hours ago.
I remembered to update this, though. That’s something.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Happy Chinese New Year. Happy President’s Day.