This afternoon I left work a bit early to go to a dental appointment. Five minutes after leaving my office, as I was pulling on to the highway, and for one split second I thought “wait, where am I going?”
In the interest of full Real Women disclosure, I know I’m not alone…this is the same phenomenon as walking out of one room, into another, and forgetting why. Or putting down your cell phone and two minutes later forgetting where you put it. Or getting up from your desk, charging out into the hall to get …. something, but who knows what. Or more potentially embarrassing, dialing the phone and as it is ringing just for a moment forgetting who you called. Yes, admit it, at least one of these things has happened to you, and it probably happened as recently as today.
I truly don’t believe, at least in most cases, that this is the sign of early senility. Rather, I believe it is the by-product of the massive amount of details that are flying around in our brains at any given moment. When I made that turn onto the highway today, I was thinking about emails I needed to reply to, calls I needed to make, which items on my to do list I was going to get done when I got home, wondering if my husband would remember to pick up milk, would I have time to take the dog for a walk, birthday cards I needed to purchase, what to do about dinner and oh yes – singing along with the old Madonna song that had just come on the radio. Is it any wonder that for one brief second, the detail of where I was going got pushed aside?
One of my BFF’s reminded me the other day of a great scene in the Mel Gibson movie “What Women Want.” He was telling his buddy that he could hear what women were thinking – and he said it was horrible because “they worry all the time.” Call it worry or multi-tasking, either way we have what seems to be thousands of things floating through our heads at any given moment. This is why in the distance between my desk and the hallway, the fact that I was going to get a folder out of the supply closet gets bumped out of my head. Then I do that embarrassing mid-life Real Woman thing of standing with my hands on my hips and a confused look on my face until it comes back to me. Or I go on to something else, like a dog chasing a squirrel.
I have a somewhat related theory about our personal data retrieval and memory capacity. I picture our memory storage to be like a giant, over-stuffed file cabinet. We just keep adding more and more files into the already full drawers. And every now and then we are forced to purge some of the old memories to make room for new. We just can’t possibly fit it all in. I’m sure the younger generation would like to believe that our brains are like expansive computer Terra-Byte drives. Well, maybe theirs are. Mine is a bulging old file cabinet. And certain things have been deleted. Like the names of most of my college professors, the directions of how to get around an old neighborhood, or what year a nephew was born. Of course we keep as many of our old beloved memories archived in the back of the drawer as possible. This is how we can remember certain childhood memories and the look or sound of loved ones who have passed…Yet just like my real-life file cabinet, sometimes rather goofy random memories remain, as if they are post-it notes that got stuck to the back of another paper. Hence why I can remember the 4-H pledge from when I was 8 years old but not my Linked In password that I just used yesterday.
It seems that men have a better ability to recall old memories. Ask a man about the name of his buddies when he was 8, the color of his neighbor’s dog when he was 12 and the name of the street he was on when he wrecked his first bicycle, and he will be able to tell you. This leads me to believe that either they have a better archiving system, or more likely, they have fewer current files they are trying to cram into the front of the top drawer every day.
I used to feel bad that I couldn’t remember some past memory when others could. But now I just say “gee, I’m sorry, but that part of my file cabinet has been purged.”
Of course, that won’t help me the next time I’m thinking about my to do list and miss an exit. That’s just a Real Woman brain fart.