Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On Forgetfulness

In seventh grade, I think, though it could have been sixth and it could have been eighth, Sanjana came over to my house with her whole family. Her dad and my dad worked together and she had a brother that was my sister’s age, and so our parents had arranged a small dinner party for our families. We made some awkward small talk and then the kids played a board game while the parents enjoyed hors d’oeuvres. We ate a meal; we had dessert; we said good night.

I had to ask Sanjana her name four times during the course of that evening, and then each time after that that our families got together, which is troubling. I have never prided myself on being a great host, but I at least figured that I was capable of remembering the one name I was responsible for. I guess all I can really do is be thankful that she was so willing to overlook my forgetfulness, and though I could speak endlessly of the many reasons why Sanjana is an extraordinary specimen of humanity I will not; to be honest, I only mention this small fact because it serves to illustrate a point I wish to express to you in no uncertain terms, and that point is this: I forget things.

I forget things, which is broad and vague and worthy of condemnation by fine writers everywhere because fine writing is precise and pristine and does not resort to such bland generalities as “I forget things”, but the point remains: I forget things, and lots of them. I forget the obvious things: names, dates, names. These things are easy to forget. These are the things your mom forgets and then paces around her kitchen for, a fish out of water, floundering and flapping unpredictably until, with a silent sigh of relief, she suddenly finds herself back under the surface, alive and alert, the fact no longer merely on the tip of her tongue but also on her mind, in big, blocky letters. I forget worse things: faces and events, for instance, or the reason I am calling or the fact that I’m in a synagogue and thus not supposed to be swearing wildly. People tell me stories where I play a main role that I have no recollection of at all, and when they are done they grin with disbelief at the blank face I have on and then they ask, “don’t you remember?”, at which point I will smile and laugh because no, I do not remember, and that is both amusing and heartbreaking at the same time and I can only hope it is breaking their heart as effectively as it is breaking mine, though I am certain it is not.

I forget things but I find ways around my forgetting things so that, sometimes, I forget that I forget things, at least for a little while. I do things early when I can so that I will not forget to do things later, or, if for some reason I am forced to delay the completion of a task, I make notes on my hand or in my assignment book, which I read faithfully, at least when I remember to. I surround myself my with people that have great memories, which is sometimes excellent and sometimes less than excellent; it is excellent when I need to find out an assignment I forgot but less than excellent when I am repeating the same joke over and over and I begin to tell it to people who have heard it already, which happens more frequently than you might at first suspect. My poor memory can even have its upsides. I have a tendency to obsess over mistakes I make, so it comes in handy when I forget the reason I’m obsessing in the first place. When that happens, I chalk one up to good luck and move on, which is nice to be able to do.

Forgetting things can have its advantages but I don’t want you to think that I am glad I forget things because I am not. I hate that I forget things. It gets in the way constantly. I will schedule two events at the same time and won’t realize it until the day before. I will walk into U.S. and be informed that we have a test that I should have been preparing for for a week. I will forget about this sentence, the one that I’m reading right now, and then next to go will be the dinner with Sanjana and then the essay and then the prompt and then the class and the teacher and then you. I will have a fantastic ending to an essay all planned out in my head,


Meredith took the picture, entitled "sharp fuzz". I would highly recommend clicking it to view it full. The fuzz looks really fantastic up close.


coutio said...

Sharp police?

Jeff said...

Awesome ending!

I'm guessing this was your disability essay?

The Muffin Man. said...

I see how the fuzz is sharp indeed. Fuzzy sharpness or sharp fuzziness...yay