I have always been very proud of the way I can remember things. From dates to pop culture factoids to details about all kinds of things, remembering is one of my greatest skills.
Well, it was.
As I’ve grown older (and frankly, more dependent on Google Calendar), my memory bank is shutting down a little more often than it used to. I like to justify it by saying that since I’m older I have more information that has to be held in there and so it’s only natural that some of the little things would fall through the cracks, but I don’t necessarily believe that. It’s just my way of excelling in another one of my best skills, smilin’ and denyin’.
Alleged shortages of available space in my memory bank aside, I believe that in many cases, we all remember what we want and how we want.
For example, ages ago when the boys were little, I often took them to walk around downtown on sunny days. I’m not talking about downtown Chicago; I’m talking about Naperville.
Downtown Naperville, like so many other quaint city centers in the Chicago suburbs, is full of shops and restaurants and is very pedestrian-friendly. Back then, it was full of mom-and-pop shops. Nowadays we’ve got Gap, Apple, Eddie Bauer, and other national chains. Though some of the small businesses have hung on thanks to unique offerings and/or an extremely loyal customer base, many others left around 2004 when the cost of rent per square foot started to skyrocket.
Back then, there was a bakery on Main Street. We never, ever, ever went to bakeries—it’s still a rarity, in fact, because I bake so much on my own—but one day, we went in. I can’t remember (see what I’m saying??) what prompted me to take the boys there; perhaps we had been walking around for a long time and got hungry, and the bakery was the closest food shop. Perhaps the boys had behaved extraordinarily well that day and I wanted to give them something special. Perhaps we just had a craving for sweets.
What I DO remember is that the cookies I bought for them cost six dollars.
I also remember feeling icky about spending so much money on cookies when we entered the bakery and saw the prices. The boys were already excited though, and I would’ve felt terrible turning around and walking back out the door. It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford to buy them; I just didn’t want to spend that much.
Every now and then I will say, “Hey remember those six dollar cookies????” and D always answers, “They were three dollar cookies, Mom!”
Oh yeah. Three dollar cookies.
But buying one cookie for each of my boys meant I was spending six dollars on cookies that day.
And anyway, back in 2000-2001, three dollars for a cookie was still ridiculous.
SIX DOLLAR COOKIES. It’s practically the same thing.
I messaged D, now twenty-one, on Friday to verify this story (because, you know. #MemoryProbs) and got his permission to give you the recap:
Me: “Hey, what do you always say when I say ‘Remember those SIX DOLLAR COOKIES at that bakery??’ I’m writing a post about how we remember only certain parts of stories.”
D: “I remind you of the truth that it was a $3 cookie.”
Me: “Okay, that’s what I thought (honest) but wanted to make sure.”
D: “Mhmm. It was $3!”
Me: “THREE BUCKS IS AN EXPENSIVE COOKIE.”
D: “I never disagreed with $3 being ridiculous still for a sub par cookie. That thing was nasty. I remember it was dry and not sweet. It was like bread with stale sugar on top.”
See? What impacts my memory the most is how painful it felt to buy what I perceived to be cookies that were not worth the cost. His memory is impacted by how awful they tasted.
Actually, now that I think about it, maybe there’s something in the recesses of my memory bank that wants me to remember half the story so my loved ones and I can have a moment of togetherness when we go over the details again and again.
Smilin’ and denyin’.
As you were.