| The Memory Muscle

By Lacy Schoen

Ok, I admit it. I have a problem. My problem is, I can’t remember diddle-e-squat - including how to spell that word. Actually, I do remember some things like how many days in a week there are, and where I work, so I’m not entirely lost. But on the daily, my mind dumps a lot of information that is pretty darn handy to recall.

A few weeks ago my friend asked me, “What are you doing this weekend?” I said, “I’m having dinner with a couple that used to work for me. They moved to California all the way from…from…ummmmmm…..

Darn it! Not again!

I was trying to remember a clue. “I think they’re from a state that starts with “M.” My girlfriend jumps into action. “Is it Minnesota, Montana, Massachusetts?” Nothing hits me, so I began to doubt the validity of the “M,” which is a legit doubt. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten the name of a famous music artist. I’ll say, “I think it begins with an N.” Someone eagerly starts listing artists, “Is it Wayne Newton, Juice Newton, Fig Newton?” A week later I realize it was Adam Ant. Where the heck did the “N” come from?! Sigh.

Later that night, I randomly remembered the couple attended the same university. That’s a clue! What was the university? What – was – it? Argh! Nothing.

Then it hit me - PURDUE! Hmm. No “M.” But, I appreciated that my memory was slowly giving me a trail of breadcrumbs to the answer.

So I started thinking…where is Purdue? INDIANA! Hmm. That didn’t feel quite right. And my gut was saying, “Not quite right, Lace.” But I went with it anyway, because it felt so good to remember something. And I knew they DEFINITELY went to Purdue. So, I emailed my friend (who could care less at this point) to let her know that I had remembered, “They moved here all the way from Indiana” Mystery solved. All is well.

But all was not well. Because I’d neglected my gut when it said, “Nuh-uh, not quite right.” We’ve all had that feeling when something just isn’t quite right, and sure enough…

Late that night, for no understandable reason, I bolted up from a dead sleep with the answer. My memory muscle had flexed, and the answer was “MICHIGAN! It’s Michigan! They went to Purdue, but they are from Michigan!” I was so excited that I’d remembered that I had to email my friend immediately and tell her, “It’s not Indiana. I remembered - for sure now – and they are from Michigan.”

By this time, I’m positive she was thinking, “Yeah Lace. Surrrre they are.” I’m sure she was fatigued by my ‘slow drip, Chinese water torture’ method of answering the simple question, “What are you doing this weekend?” But, I couldn’t help it. My memory had finally worked and I just had to get the positive result out there!

I forget other things too, like how to spell my son’s middle name. My girlfriends probably think I’m an unfit mother, but for some reason, I just can’t retain it. Is it Allan or Alan? Then, to add insult to injury, my ex’s middle name is spelled Allen. Cruel. Just cruel.

What about anniversaries and birthdays? Forget it. Literally. Before we were married, my ex asked if we could plan our wedding date between our June birthdays, so he could remember the date. I thought, “Score!” I celebrated in my mind, until I realized that I don’t remember birthdays either - even mine. Good thing my best friend calls every year to remind me of my birthday, and my age.

Then there’s those people who can remember, “My Kimmy walked at 9 months,” or, “Johnny got straight A‘s in 7th grade.” Uh, really? Wow. I mean, not to be rude but - how do people remember all that stuff? Can Kimmy walk now? Does Johnny have a job? Because current info is about all I can retain. The rest is way, WAY too much detail for me to keep stored.

Here’s what I remember about my kids. I love my kids and we have fun. One lives with me and the other lives in Brooklyn. They are both happy and well. To remember all their milestones, I’d have to repeat them constantly, which would limit my ability to have conversations, hold down a job and shop. Not an option.

Even when my kids were little, my memory was a problem. My kids tell the story of me asking them twelve times if they’d tied their shoes. They’d answer yes, and 5 minutes later I’d ask again. I don’t remember this, but my son tells me it came in handy when I was dolling out lunch money.

So, memory is not my strong suit. I like to think it’s because I’m so busy, or wildly intelligent. But either way, I’ve learned to compensate. Thank god for cell phone alarms, Outlook and post its. And, as it turns out, I can remember some important things, like who my kids are and where I live. My kids appreciate this, and knowing where I live comes in really handy after a long drive home and I gotta pee. Life is good.

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