I went to a friend’s 40th birthday party the other night. I guess this is the year all my old classmates and I turn 40.
I have this very specific memory of laying down on the floor of my house, probably 9 or 10 years old. The TV is on and it is the evening. I have a pen and a notebook and I’m laying on the floor, writing in the notebook. I’m writing down numbers. Lots of numbers, next to each other, on top of one another, numbers everywhere, really. I occasionally look up at the TV, but for the most part as I am laying there on my stomach with my pajamas on. I distinctly remember scanning the page, up and down, looking at the numbers and saying to myself “this is probably what math is like in college.” A few minutes later I distinctly remember saying to myself “wow, I will be 29 in the year 2000.”
What does all this have to do with a 40th birthday party? Well, memories for one. The recurring theme of this blog is that I am rather fascinated with the passage of time and all the sociological and mental aspects of dealing with it. We are obviously not the same people at 10, 20, 30 and 40. Obviously. Just think of yourself at those ages and how much you changed every ten years. It’s all dramatic change. I find myself wondering if the level of change will be similar from 40 to 50. I think the changes will be more physical on this go around. But who am I to know? I guess the older people can chime in if they want.
Anyway, memories. As we sat around the table at the party, each of us had very specific memories of one another that we all pretty much forgot. One woman who I’ve known since the age of five told me she remembered clear as day that back in Kindergarten I always seemed to know the days of week. I always knew what day it was. Of course, I have no memories of this. Another friend reminded me that when we were 19 he crashed for months on the couch of the apartment on Peterborough St in Boston. I felt bad, and told him so, that I had forgotten about this. How could I have possibly forgotten about someone who I lived with? For months! Of course, as soon as he said it, I remembered that and more and he also filled in some cracks of my memory about other amusing stuff that happened in that apartment and on that floor.
So how is that we can retain certain things, certain moments, from when we’re splayed out on the floor of our house when we’re 9, but we can’t remmeber someone we lived with for a couple of months when we were 19? It’s absolutely fascinating stuff. Anyway, that night was a blast. When you get five people who have known each other for that long a period of time, there are inevitably some chestnuts that get unearthed. The biggest laugh of the night (and probably the biggest laugh of the YEAR) was the result of something that someone had forgotten, in fact.
So this is the year we all turn 40. I’m pretty okay with that, so long as I can keep connecting with the people I’ve been on the ride with. One thing that does keep changing for me is the value of those relationships. Even if I only connect with them once a year, once a month, once a whatever. Those relationships keep getting more important to me. I want to hear more stories that I’ve forgotten. I want to laugh. I want to remember.[audio: remember.mp3]
Peter Gabriel, “I Don’t Remember”
I got no means to show identification I got no papers show you what I am You'll have to take me just the way that you find me What's gone is gone and I do not give a damn Empty stomach, empty head I got empty heart and empty bed I don't remember I don't remember I don't remember, I don't recall I got no memory of anything at all I don't remember, I don't recall I got no memory of anything Strange is your language and I have no decoder Why don't you make your inentions clear With eyes to the sun and your mouth to the soda Saying, "Tell me the truth, you got nothing to fear Stop staring at me like a bird of prey I'm all mixed up, I got nothing to say I don't remember I don't remember I don't remember, I don't recall I got no memory of anything at all I don't remember, I don't recall I got no memory of anything Anything at all I don't remember, I don't recall I got no memory of anything at all I don't remember, I don't recall i got no memory of anything absolutely anything at all I don't remember