Last night my historian husband started singing a song (he does that a lot, just starts singing out loud, usually songs from the 1970s,) that he used to karaoke at a club he frequented way back in the day. This was before karaoke even existed mind ya, he used a beer bottle as his mic and people would clear the dance floor for him to croon. Then he stopped mid-song last night and said, Wow, I can’t believe how many people I have been during my lifetime.
Did you ever stop and think for a minute about how many people you may have been in your lifetime to date? I don’t mean multiple personalities, although sure why not – our personalities can and do change to some degree depending on our situation. I’m talking about who you really “were then,” verses who you are “right now.”
He began reminiscing about those different people he was – during his formative years, as a teenager, a wild fraternity brother, a banker-turned-journalist, husband, father, husband again, step-father, photographer, writer, furniture-maker, antique car enthusiast, Harvard University employee and student, and of course a pseudo-karaoke star.
As he did that I was overcome with physical and emotional discomfort – not from his chronicled narrative, but from whatever is locked up behind closed doors in my own mind. Memories that I can’t see or hear, but I can feel. I think it’s called dissociative amnesia – the stuff is in there – I just can’t remember much after too many years of overwhelming stress.
I don’t know many people who lack some of their autobiographical memory. I try not to talk about it because it’s hard. I hate that I can’t remember much of my life, especially when people around me are reminiscing. So ironically, I try to put my amnesia out of my mind.
But I live with a walking Wikipedia. Sir Husband remembers pretty much everything, and most days I’m in awe and astonished not just by his vivid memories all the way back to his toddler years, but by the smarts he accumulated and maintained along the way. He actually remembers every word to every song he has heard throughout his life – and sings them, in tune. He recalls worldwide historical events in detail, like he was there. He even remembers what I was wearing when I was a teenager and he picked me up for school every day. Wow. I can’t compete.
I’ve been lot of different people in my lifetime too – but the things they did, places they went, the clothes they wore, I’m not really sure. They say our life flashes before our eyes when we’re changing realms, so I guess eventually I’ll remember who I was.
On the other hand, I do know who I am now, today, in this perfectly memorable moment. And I’m thinking that’s who really matters.