Putting the “Me” in “Memory”

Dear Reader,

How good is your memory? I recently went through one of my old email addresses to find specific information about a doctor’s appointment from years ago. In my searches, I stumbled upon a picture of me in high school at a choir concert. While the choir concert was important at the time, today, without the picture, it is not even a memory!

At the end of the day, we can all remember the major stuff–a great life accomplishment, a tragic incident, or even a best friend. However, it is the less-than-significant stuff that makes up the bulk of our lives. How much of what has happened in the past week or the past month will you remember in a year from now–two years, five?

A memorable event for me was a study abroad trip that I took to Russia when I was in college. I lived in a dormitory in St. Petersburg for a semester with a group of Americans. I made good friends during this trip. A few years after returning back to the U.S., I met up with one of my good friends from the program. We started chatting about a pizza place that we often visited in the city called “Pizza Bar.” He recounted a specific, funny incident to me from our time there, expecting me to remember it, but I just looked at him blankly. When I told him I did not remember the event, he looked for signs of humor in my face and was incredulous to discover that I truly did not remember the incident. He is the keeper of the Pizza Bar memory. How many other moments have I let slip through the cracks of my mind?

One of the reasons that I like blogging is that it can help me hold on to more of my memories. I have so many good solitary moments that I am sure to forget a few days or weeks from now. By taking the time to consider my experiences and write them down, I am able to preserve my memories in a unique way. Will I remember where I wrote this post one year from now? Will I remember my mood, mindset, and current preoccupations? I’m unsure, but the more I consider these questions as I type words onto this page, the more likely it is for me to retain these memories for longer periods.

Museum in Chicago, 2015

I have a solo vacation coming up in a few weeks. I will see new places and have new experiences all on my own. I will be the only keeper of my memories. I will not be able to ask someone if they remember the hipster cafe I visited or the eccentric man that I met selling charm bracelets (all hypothetical of course). Then, when I will return home from vacation, my memories will fade day by day. There will be no one to remember things with. No one to share an inside joke with about a funny incident. No one to remind me of the time that such-and-such a thing happened. 

At the end of the day, we are our memories. Our minds are like a CDs that are written and re-written everyday. Some memories stay, some get altered, others become corrupted or permanently deleted. Experiences become memories. They become subjective, malleable, and flimsy. At some point, we will forget whether we went on that vacation in 2005 or 2009. We will not remember whether it was our Aunt that hosted Thanksgiving one year or our cousin. Memories are slippery creatures. If we do not keep our eyes on them, they might just poof disappear.

Life is made up of so many precious moments, Dear Reader, I hope that they live on in your memories for years to come.



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