I’m pretty forgetful and absent-minded about the small things. Like if you ask me to grab you something from the kitchen while I’m up, or if I was supposed to bring your glove to the softball field, or if you owe me small bills of money, chances are we’re all going to be disappointed. If I don’t write it down on paper, then fold that paper into my pocket for later reference, it’s unlikely that I’ll remember in an hour, let alone the rest of my life.
It’s okay. We all have our weaknesses.
But I remember names. And faces. And words. And sometimes the combination is even more potent. I’ve dug back in time, thinking through some of the most memorable things people said to me through the years.
You know, it’s funny what sticks with you.
“Save some, spend some.” — my dad, giving me allowance for the first time, kindergarten
“Now, don’t say the ‘S’ word for the rest of the day.” — my teachers after leading us in a snow dance, 1st grade
“Penmanship is not a hard subject. All this says to me is that you didn’t try.” — my mom after reviewing my B- in penmanship, 2nd grade
“My husband said you were more confident on camera than I was.” — my math teacher after the airing of a local TV-33 interview with our class about rainforest conservation, 3rd grade
“You would.” — my Girl Scout troop leader after my saying that EPCOT was my favorite Disney park, 4th grade
🎵 “I can see clearly now, Kelaine is gone” 🎵 — the mean girls, most of whom were my friends until that moment, 5th grade
“I didn’t vote for you because just once in your life, I want to see you fail.” — the meanest girl, with whom I was friends until that moment, 6th grade
In 7th grade, I don’t expressly remember anything anyone said to me. I must have blacked it out. What I do remember is that the softball coach put a breakfast muffin in my locker with a note telling me that I shouldn’t feel badly for choosing to run spring track instead of playing softball.
“Use your arms!” — my mom watching me run the 800m, 8th grade
“I don’t care what none of y’all say, that girl is a MAN.” — a girl in my gym class during the football unit, 9th grade
“Nice skin.” — my sister, 10th grade
“Kelaine has no skill, but she’d run through a brick wall to get the ball.” — my high school soccer coach, 11th grade
In 12th grade, I don’t expressly remember what anyone said to me. I must have painted over it in broad, magnificent strokes. What I do remember is that someone wrote an anonymous letter about me and circulated it around the school, effectively saying I was a fraud and that I should, I don’t know, abdicate my position as class president or something? I know who wrote it. I just really didn’t care. I still don’t. By then, I had already learned how mean girls are.
“Look at my finger… no hands!” — my hallmate, exposing his penis to me while laying drunk on the floor in front of my dorm room wearing Mardi Gras beads, freshman year of college
I tend not to dwell on these things. But they do pop up at the strangest times. They’re there, playing in my subconscious, reminding me not only of who I’ve been, but who I was to other people. And it makes me wonder—do they remember? Do they know who they are in my memories?
And, in whose memories have I left my mark? And how?