What I Don’t Remember

Andilit has a wonderful blog. In a recent post she talked about the book Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg. Goldberg is a writing teacher, and this book is about how to write memoir.

She states that first we must know how to remember, a skill I need to develop as my memory is as hole-y as swiss cheese. She gives exercises and writing prompts on how to discover forgotten memories. One such prompt is to write for 10 minutes about what you don’t remember.

What I don’t remember?? Hmmm. It’s odd how trying to think of things you don’t remember brings up a plethora of things you do. But perhaps that’s the point. Here are just a handful of things I don’t remember.

1. I don’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, I guess because it was unimportant and I was distracted by worry over a medical procedure my daughter was having.
2. I don’t remember learning to read, although I have vivid memories of learning to write (with a purple crayon, on the walls of my bedroom).
3. I don’t remember learning to swim.. it seems I’ve always been able to do that.
4. Junior high is a blur.
5. I don’t remember the first time I held hands with a boy, but I do know who the boy was.
6. I don’t remember watching the sun rise or set for the first time ever.
7. I don’t remember the first time I smoked a cigarette, although I do remember the last time, even after many years.
8. I don’t remember the first time I held my baby brother (I was 12) but I do remember my sister coming home from the hospital (I was 2).

Memory is so random! Why do certain, often meaningless trivial things, leave an indelible impression, while other much more important memories are lost? And are they truly lost, or is memory like a computer hard drive.. the info is there even though we may no longer be able to access it (at least not without some technical assistance)?

I invite you to try this exercise and tell us what you don’t remember. Leave a link in the comments. I would especially like to tag a few favorite bloggers: Chartroose, Trish, Bookbabie, Lyndsey, and Kim. There are a couple real writers in that crowd, so the answers should be interesting.