I Forgot to Remember to Forget

There’s a line in my favorite Chronicles of Narnia book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, that has always stuck with me. It’s the scene when Lucy has to read the magician’s spellbook to help save the Dufflepuds become visible again. And during the list of spells she flips past through are two that I would have been very tempted to say myself: “how to remember things forgotten, how to forget things you wanted to forget.”

There’s also the memory spell from Harry Potter that I sometimes wish I could perform on myself:

For believe me there are many things that I wish I could forget in my life.

In the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the main characters have their memories erased of each other to forget the pain and hurt that happened due the breakdown of their relationship. It seems like it would be a brilliant invention. To have your mind swept free of all the negative feelings that were the result of heartbreak. Sometimes I wish that actually took place.

Of course you do grow because of the pain. You do grow from your experiences. As much as I hate what I’ve gone through, I know that because of the bad stuff, I’ve become a better person. And that part I’m ok with. I try not to dwell on the painful past though. It does no good to sit there and be reminded constantly of how much you were hurt. I just hate it when the memories sneak up when you’re not expecting it. I’m not talking about if a song comes on the radio that used to be your song. I mean like looking at patch of grass and a flood of memories comes back.

Sometimes I wonder if the other person remembers things too. Obviously what you place importance on will stand out more to one person than another. But other times it feels like the other person literally did wipe out every memory of you just like Clementine did to Joel in Eternal Sunshine. And because you don’t want to be the only one with the memories, it’s easy to just want to shut them out too. And that can hurt.

(FYI: some cursing. Also I totally forgot David Cross was in that movie)

If I had a super power it would be the ability to absorb knowledge and never forget it. I’d be able to give out information in the blink of an eye. My name would be something like The Encyclopedia or the Archivist. I remember things. I remember birthdays, important anniversaries, events. I retain information like a sponge. Now I don’t have a photographic memory. I can’t look at something and automatically remember what was there. But I do have good reading comprehension skills. And I’m good at picking up on small details.

Senior year in high school, it was a joke among my friends that if anyone needed to remember anything, they just needed to turn to me and I’d remember it in my brain or my “files”.


Sometimes I don’t let on that I remember things or people. I feel weird because I remember tiny little details that everyone else seems to have forgotten. I try not to be that person that brings up that embarrassing moment from 6th grade that you had tried to block out of your mind. If something triggers a memory in me, while it may bother me on the inside, I try to keep my mouth shut because it was only important to me.

People always say to me “I can’t believe you remember that!” Sometimes I wish I didn’t.

I’ll see people from years ago and I’ll totally recognize them but they don’t seem to recognize me. Sometimes that bothers me a little because it makes me feel like I didn’t exist or that I was so unimportant that I’ve been erased from their memory. This hurts especially when we used to be good friends.

It sucks also when I make plans with someone and I remember the plans. But then it feels like the other person doesn’t remember. And I’m never sure if I’m supposed to remind them or wait for them to remember. I don’t want to nag but at the same time I want to think that I was important enough to be remembered.

However, I totally realize that everyone is different and not everyone has a memory like mine. I’m good at remembering faces, little details, etc. I mean that’s part of the reason why I decided to study history. To me, remembering things is important and priority to me.

The hard part is just remembering (heh) that not everyone else is like this. Again you’d think I’d realize this all the time, but it’s only starting to sink in. Just because I place priority over something does not mean everyone else does. Sometimes you do have to push people to remember things and it doesn’t mean that it makes you any less of important. Other times, people just choose to forget you and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Ironically as I look at my Timehop app for today, an app that triggers a lot of memories, one of my Twitter statuses from three years ago was this