Elephants aren't alone in their gift for never forgetting. These days I am reading Total Memory Make-over by Marilu Henner. She is one of a small group of people who have total autobiographical memory. That means she remembers all her past days in vivid minute detail.
In her book she includes exercises to help readers increase their ability to remember and to reach back to recover details of their past. I am loving this book and I feel right at home with it. My personal recall has always been pretty good but years of creating and telling personal stories has sharpened my memories and also taught me to make note of things as they happen. Taking note is important so that when today is the past you won't lose it.
Just the other day I sat in the warm sunshine outside Starbucks on Connecticut Avenue thinking about a special vacation in Venice, Italy with my husband. As vivid images floated through my memory I made notes in my journal to capture them. Once again Jim and I, hand-in-hand, dodged pigeons and people as we strolled across San Marco Square toward the lagoon where the mid-day sun danced on the water.
The other day I bought a tea pot at the Prevention of Blindness a thrift shop on Howard Avenue in Kensington. I first saw it there several weeks again and resisted buying it.
I already have a lovely tea pot. A British friend gave it to Jim and me. Tea brewed in that pot is especially delicious. I love it. I do not need another tea pot.
But I kept thinking about the Hall tea pot in Kensington. When I went back to the shop this week the tea pot was no longer on the large table in the front room. I thought, "it's been sold," then "Oh, well." A few minutes later I saw it on a shelf in a back room. It was waiting for me. I bought it.
Now I know why I did not forget it.
My memory had been pricked. I have been reminded that my grandmother had one like it. Color and shape. As I carefully examine my new/old teapot I am back in her breakfast room at 2308 E. Seventh St. in Charlotte, NC. The tea pot is a portal to a new set of memories—and, I hope, more stories.
Marilu Henner's book encourages me that those hidden memories are waiting just below the surface.
Have you found your memories?