Friday, May 16, 2008

Write It Down

Fall Front Desk, A Stickley Reproduction
A work friend and I often exchanged stories about the cute things our children and grandchildren said. One day she said, "You better write these things down because you will forget them."

I wondered how I could ever forget such wonderful bits of my life. As a therapist, I often worked with patients/clients on memory improvement. After all, I had a memory like the man in A.R. Luria's book, The Mind of A Mnemonist. Much to the chagrin of my former husband, whom I now refer to as S.H., I never forgot anything. Tell me a story and your story will trigger two dozen stories related to your topic. Mention a conversation and I can recall what everyone said and what they were wearing. For some odd reason, even the emotionality connected with each memory is not diminished. When I recall an episode, the joy or anger engendered by the original episode comes rushing back full strength. I remember the newborn faces of each of my children, as though there are digital images in my head. With those memories, I am flooded with the same emotions as when I first held them. I can smell them; that wonderful mixture of aromas with which your own babies fill your nostrils. I remember the entire scene at the cafe where Tall Husband first touched me. How did he know to gently touch the nape of my neck? I never forget.

So, you can imagine my dismay when I found a small piece of crumpled paper in my desk drawer at home. It was my handwriting alright. When did I write the words,
One piece of time? And why? Slowly, I recalled the entire scene surrounding that piece of paper. I had been on the telephone talking with my daughter who lived in Paris with her husband and my small grandson, Alexander. She was telling me that Alexander had begun telling her bedtime stories. His stories were based on the ones she had told him, except he began his with, One piece of time..., instead of the customary, Once upon a time. I recalled how profound his twist of the phrase seemed to me; how he got it that a story or life can turn on a dime; that it's the small moments that change the world. I had written it down so that I could tease my friend about following her advice. And then I had forgotten Alexander's profound phrase. It would have been lost forever if I had not written it down. I shuddered to think what other pieces of my history I had lost.

So write it down, even if you have the pathological memory of Dr. Luria's Mr. S. in The Mind of A Mnemonist.

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