Monday, May 16, 2011

OMG! I’m Normal!

Before stress started wreaking havoc with my mental filing system, I had an excellent memory.

I could quickly and easily memorize every line of a play. As an editor, I could remember what month and where on a page a particular piece of information had been published in a newsletter. Scenes from my family’s history could be retrieved in detail, sometimes to the embarrassment of family members. My first memory on this planet predates my ability to use language.

The weird twist to all this recall? Personal memories were affiliated with clothing. I could remember what I wore when something happened: The Easter photos taken beneath the redbud tree? Powder-blue dress with white ducks on it and the powder-blue crushed-velvet trench coat with silver buttons. Parents’ reunion picnic at the neighbors’ farm? Turquoise terrycloth playsuit with kelly-green piping. Getting invited to the big-deal country club for lunch? Flowy, ruffly dress of tangerine roses with hints of yellow in it.

I’ve inquired of friends and colleagues whether their memories also included wardrobe choices, but no one ever fessed up to sharing that quirk with me. Made me feel weird, as if my memories were tainted by vanity.

Until now.

Yesterday, on a morning television program, I learned that sisters Delia and Nora Ephron wrote a play about this very memory quirk. Love, Loss, and What I Wore hit Broadway in 2009 and is about to go on tour. It’s a collection of women’s monologues depicting life’s ups and downs and what the women wore when each occurred. According to the Ephrons, this is a gender thing and not my personal psychological disorder. (Apparently, all the women I’ve known are exceptions to the rule.)

Whew! You can’t imagine how much better I feel about my mental health! No longer must I hide this dark secret. No longer must I wonder why in the world my wardrobe got tucked away in my brain with my memories.

You can bet that years from now, I’ll be able to recall the plaid of the Pendleton blanket I wrapped round my nightclothes when I first heard the news of my normalcy.


Anonymous said...

well now sista, you have never told me about this particular memory quirk of yours or have I forgotten? I knew you remembered events from when you were very very young, but the wardrobe thing..huh I remember many of my clothes from a pretty young age, but I don't remember the events. I do remember places, like a purple and teal flowered dropped shirtwaist dress standing in front of my closet and I remember you in your pink and white sailor collar dress in the back seat of the car.

C. J. Jackson said...

Interesting about the "place" memories. It's kind of a chicken-egg puzzle: Do you remember the place because of the clothes? Or do you remember the clothes because of the place? These questions used to haunt me, but now the Ephron sisters have shown me the light.

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