Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Shelving memories

I'm wondering how much I can remember from each year of my life. If I were to try to extract all the memories I have from each year I can remember, what would I get? To help, school would be used as a framing device, since I know I'll be able to recall things better if I can remember what grade I was in and who my teachers were, and from there I can remember the names of my classmates and where I might have been sitting, and from that I can remember certain class assignments or funny things that happened then, and who my friends were and what things we might have done in elementary school. Some memories would easily fit into certain years, while others would kind of hover around in the area of "elementary school" or sometimes in "that time before I went to London for vacation, and after I became friends with so-and-so." If the specifically placed memories sat on shelves numbered by year, which themselves were stacked one above the other, I could draw the larger vertical brackets for elementary school and middle school and adolescence, etc. where the hazier memories could sit, and they could wait out there in the margins till I remembered what year they were from. Meanwhile the other memories would be packed in tight like socks in a drawer or spread out loose like a silk shirt, depending on what the number of memories for that year was, and if I guess the shelves were drawers instead, and if sometimes one large, thin memory covered the year pretty well.

But that would be kind of fun, right? If we wrote down all the years we've lived and tried to make notes to indicate any broad swaths of memory we've still got like that we played cards after finals in 7th grade with people we didn't know very well and it was surprisingly fun, then we could see all the blank patches and the times that were supersaturated with memories (I think colorful balloons for some reason). It's getting weirder for me to realize that when I remember middle school, I only have 3-4 overarching, go-to memories, and if I rely on those and think, right, middle school was those 3-4 things and a whole lot more, I'll forget the whole lot more slowly over time and then one day they won't really be there. It's weird that I know a whole year happened, probably with a lot of stress and anxiety and joy and awkwardness, and I can only remember one thing from that whole year of experiences, like somehow a year's worth of stuff was condensed into one memory, or bits from that year fell out until only that bit was left. I'm not sure if one averaged out memory or a random sampling of one memory from a year's worth is better.

Just now I was trying to review my Spanish, and one of the sentences I was supposed to translate reminded me of this moment in class, and it might have been Spanish class, but I'm not really sure. But it was a moment when I was sitting with 3 or 4 people, and we were supposed to be working as a group to do some I think holiday or unit-themed assignment that was slightly embarrassing. I think the assignment was to use the new words we had learned to act out a scene where someone is single and looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend, and everyone else is vying for their attention. For some reason someone in our group ended up volunteering us to present our scene from our seats and act out the dialogue. I remember I was supposed to convince our bachelor that I was the best choice, while my other classmate was supposed to present himself as the better choice, and he said something about how he made a lot of money because he or his parents were doctors, and then I'd said something about how money doesn't matter, and that I cared more, and the person who was choosing between us ended up being very diplomatic about it in sort of a weird way, because he spoke really formally, like he was weighing job offers. He said something about how he could see the advantages for both, but in the end he chose one of us (can't remember who) because (I can't remember why, but it sort of made sense. It had something to do with how because the other guy or his parents were doctors, they must ___, so he would rather ___ and so he chose __). I just can't place this memory. I'm not really sure it was Spanish class, because I don't think I knew enough Spanish to say that exactly, and I'm not sure my classmates knew enough either. But I just can't imagine in what other class or situation this might have happened. Anyway, maybe I'll remember sometime. I don't think I've recalled that memory in years, so there are a bunch of holes. I don't remember whether I was in middle school or high school, or who my classmates were, except by gender and generalized personality, or who my teacher was, except that she announced the assignment with joy and some people groaned, and she might have clapped her hands together to get our attention to announce the last assignment of the day.

I'm starting to think actually, that it might have been in this Chinese class I was sitting in on, because we might have known enough Chinese to go through that scenario. I also just placed the classroom and now the group and everything is fitting together, because we were sitting near the door and there weren't that many students in the class, and I'm pretty sure we had just learned majors and occupations and how to say that a job was lucrative. We definitely learned how to say doctor. Mystery solved!

Sometime, I'll do the listing the years and extracting the memories from each exercise. It could be almost like a bookkeeping thing, just for memories and for fun.