My memories come to visit me in MTV like pre-packaged short clips. This is weird since I’ve never really watched MTV. I don’t know what other people’s memories are like. But I’ve always imagined that if you say to someone, ‘Where were you on October 6th, 1985?” that someone can conjure up in great detail, what they were wearing, what they ate, what time they went to bed and what the sheets looked like, and on and on.
As a kid I was obsessed with not getting amnesia. I worried about it. When I had a good moment I’d fret. “Will this someday fade away?” Turns out I barely remember anything. I have flashes. Like I do remember doing my homework one night, at the dining room table and feeling like the wood on the table was not hard enough, it felt mushy and I got agitated and spaced out instead. I remember thinking to myself, “Will this boring moment of childhood be a memory someday?”
I felt like we could control it or pick what we wanted to remember. And I remember thinking how great it would be to get to rush and be an adult as soon as possible, so that I could see what I’d remembered from childhood and why.
My new thing is that everyday I’m going to walk for fifteen minutes at work, outside and around the block. I have to be with the sun. That simple. Today on my walk I felt grateful that no one in my office has or ever will any interest in joining me. They don’t seem to get seasonal depression or office depression like me. Good. I can walk alone! And I was blindsided with a memory of walking home from school as a little kid.
I always walked with my neighbor Katie. Her family lived up the street. Katie dawdled after school and I’d always have to wait and then we’d be stuck in the slog of other kids walking home. The one time of day when suburban sidewalks are as packed as Madison Avenue.
And today I was struck by this memory. I’m walking home with Katie. It’s spring. My jacket is tied around my waist. I tell her that the love of my life, who never loved me back, Jonathan, fainted in sex-ed class. His head hit the desk like a bowling ball hitting a lane. Except his head didn’t roll. It stayed there until the teacher put her arm around him and walked him out.
Katie: “Did the teacher explain what a period is yet?”
Me: “No. Did you get yours?”
Katie: “Hell no.”
Me: “Yeah. We didn’t get too deep into the Sex Ed. After Jonathan fainted. That was it. Tomorrow we learn sperm and stuff.”
Katie: “My dad was in a real bad mood today. I think he has his period.”
Katie: “Yeah. Do guys…?”
Me: “Get them? I guess so. They’d have to if men and women make babies.”
Katie: “Yeah. Because my dad was so angry.”
Me: “Yeah. You never hear about men wearing tampons though?”
Katie: “That’s men for you.”
Me: “Maybe they only get it for like, two days.”
Katie: “Yeah. And it’s out of their butts.”
Well case closed on the Do Men Menstruate files! Sadly, we were 10 years old. That’s how little we knew.
My memory cuts to the next morning. I have no idea what happened that night.
Katie and I walk to school.
Katie: “I figured it out.”
Katie: “When you poop, sometimes you pee at the same time. Even if you didn’t have to pee. It’s like you can’t do one without the other. That’s why they call it going poopie. Poo-pee.”
I loved how Katie started out with “I figured IT out.” As though there were only one universal ‘it’ that scientists, philosophers, and scholars have been pondering since the dark ages. Oh! Poopie! I get it!
Katie added: “Oh. Don’t ask your Sex Ed teacher about dad’s getting their periods. I don’t think they do. I asked my older sister last night and she called me an idiot.”
Thanks for the save old friend.