Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Forget

I forget why blood is blue in the body but red when it comes out.

I forget the mineral components of the human body.

I forget how it felt to be a small, unrecognizable organism floating in the amniotic fluid of a woman’s body.

I forget the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma, (I’m Only Bleeding).”

I forget the formula for converting centigrade to Fahrenheit.

I forget to remember to forget the things that I want to forget.

I forget what I am doing at the cash machine. Yesterday I went to the cash machine outside of University Bookstore on University Avenue to take out $100 dollars to renew my library card at the University of Washington. There were two people behind me, waiting in line. I inserted my bank card, punched in my pin number, requested a receipt, and waited. The machine made a ding sound, and $100 dollars was gently pushed out, followed by another ding, and a receipt. I waited for my card to come out, but it didn’t come out. I looked for a button to push. I pressed the cancel button. Nothing happened. I turned around. I explained to the young man behind me that my card would not come out. He said you should report that. I tried again. I checked my wallet. My card was back in my wallet. How did that happen? I had no memory at all of retrieving my card and putting it in my wallet. It seemed like a magic trick. I turned, and as I slowly walked away, I mumbled to the young man behind me, go ahead, my card is here. I don’t think he heard me. He looked a little puzzled. I don’t know if he tried putting his card in the machine. I walked away feeling acutely embarrassed.

I forget when Charlemagne ruled Europe.

I forget everything I learned in high school geometry. But I do know how to tell the difference between a circle and a square.

I forget the name of the Mexican restaurant I lived behind in a small Airstream trailer in Arcata, California, for two weeks. The owner of the trailer, a wizened old man named Rocco who grew a large plot of potatoes, wore a welder’s cap, and always had a drip of snot hanging fro m his nose, ran water from the Mexican restaurant, which, as it turned out, was illegal. The Arcata Water Department shut the water off without telling me. I went to their office and told them I was renting the trailer, and that I had paid my rent for the month. The men behind the counter looked at me with utter indifference, shrugged their shoulders, and said there was nothing that could be done. I forfeited the last two weeks and went to stay with a friend.

I forget where Roberta put my favorite running T-shirt. She held it up and showed it to me and told me where she was going to put it, but now I can’t remember.

I forget at what moment it occurred to me that I was different than other people and headed squarely toward being a bohemian. But is that how people become bohemian? I don’t remember making a conscious choice. I just remember that at some point I wasn’t adjusting to society as successfully or as smoothly as other people, nor did I want to.

I forget the first time I recognized what a word meant.

I forget the first time I recognized that people were using words to communicate.

I forget the first record I bought. I remember listening to Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song” over and over again when I was about eight or nine, but that record belonged to a friend across the street.

I forget the name of the actor who played the rabbi who was going blind in Woody Allen’s Crimes And Misdemeanors. He was one of my favorite actors, and I continually forget his name. He also played Robert Oppenheimer for a series featured on PBS in the 80s about the development of the atom bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and the man who had run unsuccessfully for president who was sightseeing Mont St. Michel with John Heard and Liv Ullman in the movie Mindwalk.

Sam Waterston.

I forget the first time I lied to someone. What were the circumstances? What was my motivation? How had I felt? Did I even know what a lie was?

I forget what it was that I meant to do today.

I forget how to tie a tie. And so I wear a bolo tie.

I forget the names of my upstairs neighbors. But I do remember the name of their dog.

I forget what five of the ten keys on my key chain are for. They may be for doors or drawers that no longer exist.

I forget how to make potato soup. The one thing I used to know how to cook. Apart from hamburger.

I forget what causes hiccups. Or warts. Or kidney stones. Or leg cramps. Or gout.

I forget what I was going to Google.

I forget what it feels like to be drunk.

I forget what I was going to say next.

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