Memory Lane.

I don’t know if there have been any scientific studies on this subject or not, but I’m convinced that some people are just better remember-ers than others. And I’m not talking about things like names or dates, or where I put my car keys. I’m talking about specific, detailed memories of events that happened a long time ago. I, for example, can remember only very general details of my past – what my third grade classroom looked like, or what I wore to my senior prom, but I can’t actually remember anything about third grade, and I couldn’t tell you the first thing about what happened at my senior prom (although, admittedly, that might have less to do with my memory and more to do with my intoxication level on that particular evening). My brother, on the other hand, can recall exact conversations from when he was twelve, and could probably tell you the entire curriculum of his third grade school year.

 

This used to make me kind of sad, and for a while, I even wondered if maybe something horrible had happened to me and my brain had blocked out entire chunks of my life as a self-defense mechanism. But then I got in touch with some old friends, and we, of course, began to talk about old times, and I found that, when prompted, I actually did remember quite a bit. I realized that I might not have the capacity for spontaneous recall, but the hard drive in my head hadn’t been totally erased; it just needed to be coaxed into cooperating.

 

Now, around this time of the year, I always become nostalgic; blame it on Auld Lang Syne, but come December 20th or so, I turn into an old-memory junkie. I’ve got a bad habit of breaking out my senior yearbook at two o’clock in the morning and bawling uncontrollably over how quickly the time has gone from then to now. I spend hours Googling people I haven’t thought of in years, and I troll iTunes for the ‘80s songs that made up the soundtrack of my youth. It’s amazing how just a few bars of Foreigner Four's Urgent can transport me to my friend Stacy’s living room, or how Let’s Get Physical carries me straight to Karen Saltzman’s basement. Listening, I close my eyes, and the memories flood through my veins, as if I’d just done a shot of heroin.

 

This year, however, I’ve discovered something even more powerful than graduation photos and old songs to fuel my New Year’s nostalgia binge; I’ve been re-reading some of my favorite childhood books. I spent about six hours and fifty bucks on Amazon one night, and four days later I received a box of filled with some of my most cherished former companions. Bridge To Terabithia, The Westing Game, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, The Pigman, The Girl With the Silver Eyes, Forever… – these were books that I read over and over and over again when I was a kid.

 

eeturtle
01.03.08

Risa,

Great post as always. Just re-read Notes & Tales and I just had to tell you how much I enjoyed them a second time. It's been a year since I've read them so it was a good reminder. Is the TV show going to follow like Tales? Just wondering...I'd love to see Nadine in real life. I picture the actress from Legally Blonde from the nail shop playing her for some reason :) Anyways, have a happy new year and can't wait for your next book!

AmyF
01.02.08

I love Judy Blume. I even read "The Pain and the Great One" so many times to my daughters, that one day we were listening to NPR(well I was and they were in the car) and Judy Blume was on and when she mentioned The Pain and The Great One, both of my girls got all excited. I even e-mailed Judy Blume's fan site after that. My daughter is not into her books as much as I was, but I love to re-read them myself. I have a copy of Forever in my nightstand.

I find that while I can remember which movie random actors were in while watching any movie.....like "Hey, that's Mr. Tumnus from Narnia" while watching the Last King of Scotland,
I cannot remember on Friday what I wore to work on Monday in order not to wear it again in the same week.

Amy
Mom to 3
www.sofiabean.com

peisidike
12.17.07

This article really touched me on so many levels! First, because my memory seems to operate similarly. I have often wondered if there was something wrong with me! But, like this author, I have a powerful emotional link with past selves that gets ignited by old books and songs and pictures, never more so than at Christmas. A few nights ago, I opened up some boxes from my garage that were full my old childhood books and a few stuffed animals and a plaque ("prayer for a little girl" - my sisters and I recited it every night for years and years!), and showed them to my little boys, and I have been in memory overload ever since. It was really neat to read about someone else with similar feelings and experience. Thank you!

smbesnoff
12.17.07

Risa,

I am not sure if you remember me, you may remember my Brother Brian better, but you are so right about this time of year and going down memory lane. It is so weird on some level how this time of year brings old friends in touch with each other and reminiscing of the olden days. I too can remember my overnight and day camp experiences, but maybe not all of the faces. My two little boys are always asking me to tell them stories of my childhood. I find when I can read them a story the I read as a child, it helps make that connection. Thank you for your insights and I am thrilled about the new comedy- "Notes from the Underbelly." I have to admit, I have not read either of yuour books, but I am planning on doing that soon. Congratulations!!- Samantha Mittman Besnoff