selective memory


so many memories in Nonna’s house of my Dad and childhood

The biggest thing to report is a bubble bath wherein a ping pong match was played with paddles and a ball and much splashing. It was a squishy fit but Nora said, “Probably I will be too old to ever ask you to have a bath with me again, so…now’s your chance.” She had a bubble wand and potion in a vial and blew big glossy globes that hung in the air like late summer can linger…quite glorious…and the bubbles would make a soft landing on our slippery limbs and shiver there, waiting, just waiting to pop. I hope I remember that bubble bath forever.

A woman came to me this week like a nightingale. Crazy generosity out of the blue. What did I do to deserve her thoughts this week? I don’t know. This life. I make my bed. I lie in it. But this woman put chocolates under the pillows. Her generosity I am sure I will not forget.

This week a friend came into town and I was supposed to leave out a key and I completely forgot. I just saw her the day before and chatted happily about our plan – “oh yes, come in, come in, help yourself while I am gone!” It completely slipped my mind the next day. She left messages and of course my phone was on silent because I was in an audition. Horrible. When I got the list of messages…I nearly threw up.

I am notoriously forgetful. Yes, I write things down, but then I forget to look in my book to see what I have written. I am reliable 90% of the time, which is useless. One friend doesn’t speak to me anymore because I forgot about too many squash games in a row. She took it personally. I still think of her alone in that little white box banging slow black balls. Seething. My nightmares are all about forgetfulness. I come home and my cat is desiccated because she hasn’t been fed or watered in two weeks. When Nora was born I had nightmares about things like putting her into the mailbox and putting the letter into the crib.

Friday I am going to have lunch with the lovely Chris Britton: a very fine actor and a good friend. We were supposed to have lunch back in the fall. We made careful plans to actually find a time that our schedules would match. It was a significant time and there was much to talk about. And you know where this is going….I completely forgot. How on earth could I forget someone I was so looking forward to seeing? He sat at the lovely table at Campagnolos waiting…waiting…

I know all this has something to do with having seven jobs and a schedule that is continuously changing…but it is also my nature. I’m sure it would be improved if I had one job instead of seven. One location. One known task. A known group of people. A weekly paycheque with a predictable amount. I think I would rarely forget anything then. Why? Because I would have shot myself in the head.

My forgetfulness – I must admit – is partly why I am a writer. If I don’t write it down, I forget. I forget the glossy bubbles, the chocolate on the pillows, the message from the stood up friend assuring me, “It’s okay, you’re not a shit head.”

My forgetfulness does remind me how fleeting this life is. It certainly is humbling.

This week a dear family member into her early nineties stopped eating. She locked herself away in her home, refusing to leave. She has always been fiercely independent . She was losing her mind and I don’t know for sure…but maybe she felt it was time to die. But a loved one intervened and now this old gal is hooked up to IV and in the hospital. She will be moved to long term care. I’m not sure this is a kinder end. I am not sure what she even remembers about who she is and where she is and why at this point.

My father took me to Cats once. I freaking hate that show. He fell promptly to sleep. He woke up once to peer over the balcony, squinted and said, “What the hell are they doing?” “they’re pretending to be cats.” I said. He grunted and went back to sleep. He woke up again to hear “Memories”. We both had to agree, it was almost worth all the other annoying nonsense.

I guess writing is a kind of selective memory. I haven’t written about my two call backs, I haven’t spoken about my injured knee and having to clean an apartment while hopping on one leg…or harping at Nora to do her social studies.

But my memory is selective regardless. When I think of my mother I am sure we argued and struggled at times but I choose to remember snapping peas, flipping pancakes, singing “sweet city woman” in the car, watching her bend over a book to read and thinking “my Mom is so lovely”. I wonder what Nora will remember? Hopefully the bubbles.


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