Many, many Tuesdays have passed since I last saw you. Do you remember seeing me? Every day for three weeks. Or just once, glancing past, holding a door, sleeping in a park, cutting me off at a red light, letting me go in front of you in the line at the grocery store. Waving for me to cross the street first. Next to me on a plane making graphs in Spanish. Maybe I was your taxi driver.
Doesn’t matter now. I imagine you have forgotten me, but maybe you haven’t.
I have been in this class for three hours a week for nearly four months, and I only know the names of four or five of my classmates. It’s not for a lack of trying; it’s just that some things stick and some things don’t. Why?
Surely we remember many seemingly insignificant things because they occurred at times of great emotion. I remember some of the exact words of my grandmother’s eulogy. I remember high school prom, passing a balloon weight, of all things, to a friend I haven’t seen since. I remember summer camp, long ago, a counselor-in-training letting me brush her hair when the rest of the nine-year-olds left me behind for being too quiet. Miriam, you were beautiful, and I have always loved your name.
But what about the other things? Why can I picture so vividly the flight attendant who gave me the wrong drink, then came back to correct it, five years ago, or the tall boy who sat across from me in a biology class, even longer ago than that, even though we never exchanged a single word? Why do these pieces stick, while if I try to remember a specific experience I had today, I come up empty?