I’ve noticed this memory thing happening lately. I’ve always had a weird memory. Numbers seem to be the magical thing. Numbers and lists. Those things I can memorize in a nearly freakish way. I remember the phone number for the house I lived in as a child. It was in New York and we moved out of that house and down to North Carolina when I was 8. Why I still remember that number, I have no idea but I can spout it off in the same sing-song way I did way back then.
About 20 years ago, I spent some time teaching high school students to be Emergency Medical Technicians and added some time in assisting with an advanced Anatomy and Physiology class. When we taught learning and memory, I used to amaze the class by having them call me out objects in the room until we had made a list of 25, writing them on the overhead projector (remember those?) as they called them out. I then took 5 minutes to sit down with the list and memorized it, at which point, I handed the list to one of the students and had them keep it where they could reference it without me seeing it. I stayed in front of them the whole time.
I would then stand at the front of the room and recite the list back to them. In order.
Then I would ask them to call out numbers and I would tell them what item it was on the list. By the same token, I would have them call out an item and I’d tell them what number it was. I never missed. Not once. To this day I can still do it. Don’t ask me why or how, I just can.
If I did this in everything I do, I would be some kind of freak of nature and be on talk shows and stuff, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. I also fall on the complete opposite end of the spectrum in other areas and it seems to be getting worse. I’d blame it on age, but I’m not old. 42 is the new 21, dammit! I’m just 21 twice so I’m doubly as good at it.
So I went to WalMart the other day. Parked the car, went in the store and headed down the aisle toward the back of the store. I got to the back near electronics and turned to walk down the back aisle and I could see the grocery part way ahead of me. As I got about halfway down the aisle, this thought formed in my brain:
“I have absolutely no fucking idea why I’m here.”
I went to the store with a purpose. I had an appointment earlier in the day and I knew I had to stop at WalMart on the way home. I had the appointment and as I drove home, I remembered to stop. When I got in the store . . . I had nothin’. I did not even have an inkling. You know when you KNOW what it is and it’s right on the edge of your brain and you’ll have it in just a second? Yeah, I didn’t have that. Only thing on the edge of my brain was tumbleweeds and darkness and a lonely man living in his despair tent.
So I wandered. I’d hoped I would walk past whatever it was I was there for. Every department, every aisle, everywhere. I clearly looked like I was lost because at one point an employee looked at me and asked if they could help me find something. I turned my head slowly to look at them and with blank eyes, I said, “What’s my name?”
The kind employee backed slowly away from me, and left.
After a solid half hour of making a tour of the store, I had still come up with nothing. I spied the Subway and went in to grab a sandwich. I had missed lunch and maybe I was just hungry. After eating it, I still had no idea what I’d come in for. I made one more run around the store and when I had come back to the front door again I decided to can the whole idea and just go home. At least I got a sandwich out of the trip so it wasn’t a complete waste.
I exited the store (through the door on my RIGHT because I’m a rebel and that’s the way it SHOULD be . . . WALMART!) and headed out into the parking lot where I saw . . .
. . .that I had no idea where I parked the car.
I probably should have just dropped to my knees and started sobbing at that point, but I couldn’t. I just stood there, laughing. Like, tears rolling down my face laughing. Mothers pulled their children to the side to walk around me, people were honking at me to get out of the street. I settled myself down enough to get out of the way, and still laughing, I started to look for my car. Right about that time I got a text from Tom and asked me what I was doing. That was it. The tears started rolling again. All I could answer was, “I have no fucking idea!”
Again, I had to settle down and get this figured out. It was hot out in that parking lot and God knows, my brain didn’t need to be any more fried. I finally had sense enough to realize that my car has an alarm on it and I’ve got the panic button in my pocket, so I set the alarm off. Thank God the battery in the remote was a new one because I was not even CLOSE to where I left that car. If it was possible to be in the wrong zip code, I was there.
I finally get in the car, get the air conditioner going and take off out of the parking lot to head home . . .if I can remember how to get there. I make a quick stop to grab a pack of smokes at the Hess station that is less than half a mile from the house and finally head on home. I got parked in the driveway and sat there in the air conditioning for a few minutes and texted this little adventure to Tom. I’m glad I have him around. He can text me things I need to know, like my name.
I finish my conversation with him for the moment and turn off the car. As I open the door to get out, I look down at the passenger seat, and what do I see? It is the ONLY thing lying on the seat.
The broken vacuum cleaner belt I took with me so I could find a replacement.