Tuesday, November 18, 2014


My teenage daughter and I have a running joke these days. I start to tell her something when we're driving somewhere together or settling down to dinner and ...

"You told me that already," she'll say. We both laugh. 

It's true, my memory ain't what it used to be. It's not so much that I'm having what you might call "senior moments" as that I'm just so overcommitted (and overtired) that I can't keep track. Did I tell her that I ordered the purple "galaxy leggings" she needs for Spirit Week? Did I tell her about the nice thing one of the mothers at the stable told me about her? Did I tell her that she needs to send a "Thank You" note to her aunt?

Who knows? I'd better tell her again.

"You told me that already." And so it goes.

Once in a while, she'll repeat something herself and then we really laugh. "Like mother, like daughter." Ha ha ha.

The problem is that memory (or the lack thereof) is not selective. We don't have a choice about what (or whom) we remember. Or what (or whom) we forget.

It seems a waste; there are so many things I'd be happy to forget. Like ...

• Most of the men I dated the year before I met my husband. Oh, I have some fond memories too — my wonderful college boyfriend, a sweet medical student. But by and large? A bit of amnesia would be welcome.

• My haircut in 2009. (Shudder, shudder. Enough said.)

• The time I was performing on tour in a musical and it was the biggest number in the show and I was in the front row at the edge of the stage and the entire cast turned left ... and I turned right.

• All of the Twilight novels.

• When they ran out of tortellini at my wedding. (How could that happen? Sure, there was plenty of other food, but ... HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN??????)

There are things (like tortellini) that can still make us cringe when recalled later. Mistakes made. Lessons learned. Something said in jest that sounded cruel. I've hurt people's feelings, made bad decisions, publicly humiliated myself. Not just as an adult either. I had to miss a kindergarten assembly (with a puppet show!) for some 5-year-old transgression and I was yelled at by a favorite teacher in front of the entire fourth grade. 

And, I somehow remember each of those incidents — in high relief — years or even decades later.

So, why is it so difficult to remember whether or not I've already reminded my daughter to call and confirm her babysitting gig? 

"You told me that already."

Okay, okay. But, have I told you the one about the tortellini?

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