I’m having memory problems.
The problems are that I don’t remember.
I feel as if I exist inside a single room of memory. Some people have mind palaces. I have a mind shack.
Right here, right now, I am sure of myself and my few things. Pens. Computer. The normal detritus of an admittedly extremely limited life. But still. I am convinced I know me, thoroughly, know my thoughts, the location of my few things, and what I plan to do a little while later.
Depending on what, I cannot fathom, many aspects of my life will have faded, drifted, and probably even, snuck away. Like with health issues, when I talk to anyone else about my fears, they say, oh yeah, we’re getting older, you know? I know what you mean. But do they?
Is this how we all feel?
While she is talking I’m scrambling inside my head throwing open cabinets full of old papers and screaming at the little old men who sit on the shack of the porch who claim to be in charge of naming things because this person who I love and who is even a former lover and who I would give my life for, this person? This wonderful kind generous person who deserves at the very least that her lover best friend confidant whoever the heck I am remember her damn name.
And yet. Her name escapes me.
As do some details of her life. Names mainly. Of her relatives. Her hobbies. Her hometown.
That I used to know.
That I want to know.
And I’m sure that if my friends could see how little of them I manage to recall at any given moment, they would be angry. Because that’s what happens when I try and talk about this, or when I don’t talk and forget something important.
My friends get angry. They see my forgetfulness as a sign that I don’t care. That there are things that I must care about more than the names of their people, or the place they live, or what they do for a living.
Sure, everyone forgets those things. No big deal.
After a day? Or an hour?
It so happens that my brain, for a variety of reasons, most of them beyond my control, is a swiss cheese of brain damage and drug damage and being old damage.
But it also so happens that I used to have a pretty good memory. Never for names, or titles of books, but for other stuff? I used to be able to trust myself.
And now I can’t trust myself.
What that means is that I can’t trust my reality.
That feels so melodramatic, and yet absolute and true at the same time, in that I’m often not sure if I’ve met someone before, or even worse, if I actually know them quite well and worked with them for months or years and simply hadn’t seen them for a while. A few months, say. Or in my world, a semester, as everything until recently was measure in semesters in my life.
Once I’m reminded of who someone is, then I can usually reconstruct some aspect of our time together, and sometimes, our shared lives reappear as if they had never been missing.
And not only people, as I routinely forget that I can do all sorts of things, and then I end up in a situation where I’m supposed to be able to know what’s going on, and what I’m supposed to. For whatever, perhaps because of muscle memory, I’m often saved by trusting my body and letting it guide me. But it’s an odd way to live. I eye PostIt notes and ponder my future with everything labeled.
An app for that could be that I point my phone at whatever, and it calmly says to me, that is your cousin Gerald, you do not appreciate his political views, and you owe him five dollars, walk away.