My brother recently blogged on how music can evoke certain very clear memories and emotions, snapping you right back to certain points in time, complete with all those sensory images, like heat or cold, and smells. I agree. I can’t hear Oh What a Night by the Four Seasons without immediately thinking of babysitting on New Year’s eve when I was 13 or 14. That is NOT what you expected me to say, I am sure. There was no boy, no night associated with that song. Just a night when I babysat and watched them perform on Dick Clark’s Rockin New Year’s Eve.
My problem is that I don’t really have a good memory for the past. I mean the distant past. I am so busy dealing with the here and now, just surviving the day, I don’t think my brain has the resources to hang on to a lot of the details of my life. For example, my mother once reminded me of this girl that was in my girl scout troop who was slightly obsessed with me, and would follow me around and drive me nuts. I have NO memory of this. I have clear memories of certain moments in time, like the time my father came home from being in the hospital for 2 weeks after back surgery to remove a ruptured disc. This was before they improved the procedure dramatically. He came home with a beard since he couldn’t get out of bed the whole time. I had issues with beards at that time. I was around 3 or 4 I think. I took one look at that man and said “THAT is NOT my dad. My dad does not have a beard” and went to hide at the neighbor’s house.
I have been reconnecting with people from high school and college, and in the course of the conversations and emails, I am being reminded of exactly how much I have forgotten. One woman from high school reminded me of our 8th grade trip to Washington DC. At least I think it was 8th grade. I am pretty sure it was. It might have been 10th grade, but based on my hair do in the picture below, I am sure it was 8th. We lived outside of Cleveland, so we were leaving from the Cleveland airport. We had a huge delay due to weather, and while sitting around the airport, we got to meet Muhammed Ali, who was on a layover too. He was extraordinarily kind and patient, and stood talking to us and making up rhymes for what seemed like an hour. I wanted a picture of him with me, and planned on just sneaking up next to him and having a friend snap the picture. He noticed me next to him, so he turned and put his arm around me for the picture. When I say he was a giant, I mean he was a GIANT. Compared to my little 12 year old self especially. His arm felt enormously heavy, and he had to lean down to be in the shot. I did get his autograph too, which I still have.
This memory is clear for me, although most of the rest of the trip is not. Like I said, most of my brain is occupied just experiencing today. It is not so much a philosophical position as a survival tactic. But I think in ways it helps me out. I don’t wallow too much in past wrongs or slights, and am able to hang onto the joyful moments I am experiencing right now with my son and husband and friends.