On selective memory


Tell me about a time you were in trouble in class.

There was a time when I was in elementary school. I think it was 2nd grade? I had a crotchety old teacher. The class was super quiet because the whole class was in trouble. We were supposed to, collectively, all be quiet. All of a sudden Ms. Crotchety looked up from what she was doing and said, “who’s whistling?!?” and to my dismay I realized that I, indeed, was the one whistling. I didn’t even realize I did it. I stopped instantly and I didn’t reveal myself because I didn’t want to get in trouble. But I was so embarrassed. I had no idea I was even doing it.

Isn’t it funny, the memories you retain?  I wonder why that memory, of all of the things I could remember, sticks. I often wonder why I have no memories of visiting Portland and Mt Hood when I was a kid. I think I must have loved it because I ended up living here. Living here has not triggered any memories of the fun I had here. I vaguely remember being in Portland. I remember one time when we went out for burgers with my cousin in Portland and we sat in a parking lot to eat them. I believe they were Arctic Circle burgers. I remember being in sight of one of the bridges. Was it the Steel Bridge? I don’t know. It might have been. It is a fuzzy memory.

We used to stay with friends of ours. My memories of them are very patchy. I don’t know where in Portland they lived. It was a beautiful old house though. A big house that had an old laundry chute. There was a day when I went out by myself to a 7 Eleven on the corner and I was walking around the store and the store owner looked at me warily and said, “why aren’t you in school?” Again, I was really embarrassed and I felt really bad, like I was in trouble, even though I did nothing wrong. I was on my spring vacation and I had every right to be there. Again, why am I remembering this particular thing? I even remember the look on the clerk’s face.

We used to go up to a cabin on Mt. Hood in Rhododendron, which is where I live now. I am all over this area and you’d think that it would trigger a memory of the cabin but it doesn’t. I don’t remember that cabin at all. There is a vague shadowy memory but that’s it. I don’t remember visiting Timberline Lodge at all. There is a photo of me sliding down Palmer Glacier. I don’t remember sliding down Palmer Glacier. I don’t remember visiting Timberline Lodge. And I love Timberline Lodge! How is this lack of memory possible? And what does it mean? Why do I choose to remember one memory over the other? Why do I remember a crotchety old teacher and a cranky shop keeper and not fun, happy memories?

Mt Hood when I was a kid