Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


This is what it's like in my head: We are driving home from Friday night services at our synagogue, and a song comes up on a CD we're playing. It sets off a series of memories of when Em was a baby. Baroy and I begin one of those games of "Oh, and remember when she used to..."? Em is eating it up.

"Oh," I say, as we pull into our driveway, and a memory hits me so hard I can almost taste it. "And then there was the Ariel [from Disney's "The Little Mermaid"] game you used to make me play with you *every* single time you took a bath! I had to be Eric, and you would whisper to me your lines, because it was from the part in the movie where Ursula has stolen your voice!"

"Really?" Em says, her eyes alight.

"Yes. And you were SO adamant that we do the lines the exact same way, every single time. If I varied them even the slightest bit, you'd throw a total fit."

"I did?" She is grinning, wide.

"Yep. God," I say, my voice falling to a murmur, amazed by the immediacy of the memory. "You would do this stage whisper. It was actually more of a croak." I do an imitation. "Eric...Eric..." I croak.

"So what were the lines?" she asks.

"The lines?" I look at her, puzzled.

"You said we had to do the lines the exact same way, every single time. What were the lines? What did I say; what did you say?"

And while she might as well have been 3 years old again and whispering the words directly in my ear, so close is the sound of her voice at that very moment, I cannot remember a word of it. Besides the word Eric, the name of the character I was playing, I cannot remember a single word.

We all think we're unique, even bizarre. I know that. Maybe I'm not as odd as I think I am. But there are things about me that *are* different. I know there are.

Of course, when I try to explain what it is about my brain that is the core of my own perceived difference, I often have great difficulty doing so. Usually, the only thing I can say to get people to understand is to explain that, more than 90 percent of the time, my dreams are in words, not pictures. That I can't tell you whether I dream in color or in black and white, because I don't 'see' anything when I dream. I hear things...sometimes I even hear an actual narrator. Sometimes I hear quotations, complete with "he said," or "she complained"--though that's not especially common. Most of the time, it's as if I'm 'experiencing' my dreams, but only from inside my head. I can feel the emotions, hear the conversations, even sometimes hear the internal thoughts of either myself or whoever is at the core of the dream. But I don't see things. I can't tell you what people are wearing, or even who they are, because I can't see their faces.

Last night was the first time I can remember when my neurological bizarenesses with regards to memory were so clearly laid out in front of me. I must have said those lines 200 times in the space of a year. It's not that I can't remember saying them...in fact, I can remember it like it was yesterday. I could tell you the temperature of the bathwater on various occasions when we would do this particular little skit. I can remember the quality of the light in the room...when it was nighttime, when it was daytime. I can feel the linoleum under my knees as I knelt and scrubbed Em's back. I can feel the roughness of the washcloth under my fingertips, too. But I can't remember what we said. WHY can't I remember what we said?

This is not an isolated incident. Ask me about college, and I can tell you in great depth how I felt about a certain friend of mine from freshman year (25 years ago!), about the odd sense of intimacy we had, about the way we would hang out only under certain circumstances of time and fate. I can hear his voice. I can smell the combination of foot odor, stale pot smoke, and day-old pizza in his room. But I can't tell you his name. Or what he looked like. Or what we talked about.

I have talked before about having lost great swathes of my life to the black hole that is my memory. But I realized, last night, that that's not true. A black hole swallows everything. My memory only swallows some of what is fed into it; other bits and pieces continue to orbit around me. When prompted, I can snatch those bits and pieces as they gravitate inward. And sometimes, like last night, one of those pieces will smash into me like some kind of memory-laden meteorite, sending up a cloud of recollection that is as strong and wonderful and full of sensation as any moment in the present in some ways--but that is shrouded in dust and mystery in so many others. It makes me sad.

Labels: , ,

free hit counter