I forget easily; more and more I remember little. This was not always the case.
It occurs to me, upon entering a building for the first time, that it is not my first time to enter it. That I was there sometime ago, to watch a play, if not to attend a meeting. That, since I had been there before, the building should not have been too hard to find. That I should not have been too bewildered by the directions, too confused by the one-way signs.
Instead I am profusely apologizing to those I have kept waiting. I say, I’m not at all familiar with this area, you see.
My mother hardly practiced nursing yet effortlessly recalls her pharmacology. If there is a need to know a country’s capital, or the place of an element in the periodic table, or the feast day of a particular saint, she is the one to call. I am a med school dropout with no recollection of anatomy class beyond the dissection of the brachial plexus in the first month of the semester. To distinguish between the tibia and the fibula, I have to tell myself the tibia is thick and the fibula is fine. Or is the tibia thin and the fibula fat?
Words rule my life and their meanings are always slipping away from me. How many times have I looked up pusillanimous and prurient? There are lists of words I encountered and no longer recognize stashed in the books that introduced me to them. Some words in things I have written I no longer know.
Sometimes I am invited to watch a film I believe I have seen before. A classic, one with such and such famous lines, or an obscure one with a plot and sex scene too peculiar to be forgettable. Far easier to acquiesce and keep the growing confirmation of having seen it a year or two ago, a city or two ago, to myself. The famous scene plays out on the screen, the uncanny moments accumulate. How could I not remember?
Yes, I say, to every correction. We were there in ’95, not ’98. We went to the terminal in Pasay, not Cubao. You ordered tulips, not hydrangeas. It was around the time of the energy crisis. It was right before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The one with the dead nails taught history, not religion. We missed it because you had dengue, not a migraine. It would’ve been simpler to take that route but you just had to be stubborn. You asked too many questions. You didn’t say a word. There were mountains and not much else.
I pore over letters and photographs, bank statements and plane tickets I religiously keep, artifacts from a life I can’t quite remember. I accept and concede. I say yes to all.