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Musing on My Memory

April 04, 2006 - Back to Journal

When I was growing up, my nickname was “The Memory Bank” because I remember not only everything that has happened in my own life but also everything that has happened in the lives of my friends -- even if I was not present but only heard about it. Debby, my best friend from childhood, will call to ask me for a specific detail of an event from her life that happened 40 years ago. She knows that if she told me about it at the time, I will be able to repeat it to her exactly as she said it then.

Why can I do this and what does it mean?

It’s hard to explain how normal this feels to me. I have never thought of this ability as a sign of intelligence since no effort goes into remembering whatsoever. It is just there, as if my memory is a tar pit that preserves whatever falls into it. Once I know it, I cannot not know it: if I own the memory once, I own it for all time. I sometimes think the birth of the self begins with the first memory since it is the first possession.