Thursday, April 24, 2008

Last Monday

My younger brother has a mind like a steel trap. He remembers everything. He won't let you forget it either. I'm STILL paying for the time I yelled at him not to come into my bedroom. He was four. We look very much alike, he and I. We came from different Fathers, but you'd never be able to tell just by looking at us. We were each born with a tiny flesh-colored birthmark on the apple of our right cheek. We have the same large front teeth and dirty blond hair that always looks wet. We even sound alike. But I was not built with the same memory. Day to day occurrences don't stick to my brain like fly paper. I can't even tell you what I wore on Monday.

What I remember are the details that everyone else's brains deem too trivial to keep. I remember how things smell and taste and sound just by thinking about them. Sometimes I don't even have to do that much. I'll be driving along and suddenly I'll smell my classroom from third grade. I'll be reading a book and recall the sound my Dad's alarm clock used to make. This afternoon I was getting a cup of coffee and suddenly I remembered the black trash bags my friend's crazy aunt used to throw out her door every Wednesday... Ten years ago. There was nothing special about them. Except maybe for the fact that we thought they contained dead bodies.

Her name was Dot. Crazy Aunt Dot to the two fifteen year old girls who watched her. Dot was a recluse. She never left her trailer at the u-bend of K's parents' driveway. She just threw her trash out every Wednesday for us to retrieve. "What do you think she does in there?" K asked me one morning as we smoked our cigarettes, waiting for our ride. "Maybe she sneaks out at night and kills people!" That's where it started. Poor Dot. We'd look through her windows when we thought she was sleeping. When she died, no one noticed until trash day came and there wasn't anything flung outside her doorway. That was all I knew about Dot. I forgot it just as quickly as it came.

Four years later, K moved into that trailer. Neither of us must have remembered Dot, because we didn't question any of the spots on the carpet. Instead, we got out paintbrushes and drew murals on the trailer walls. I drew a gigantic fairy. Later, when the paint was covered with more respectable colors, that mural was left and a frame was added around it. I wonder if anyone asks who drew it anymore. Next door to K's was her Grandmother's house. I remember K telling me that her Grandma ate meat raw, and that's why they wouldn't let her into McDonald's anymore. I'm sure it was meant to be taken differently. But I couldn't look at the woman without being a little afraid after that.

I don't think I'll ever have a story that's interesting enough to tell. Not a whole story anyway, not one with a middle and a plot. But I could fill volumes with details. I could tell you about the pig skull we found when I was eight while building a fort out of corn husks. It rose out of the mud, white and full of teeth. My friends and I were so scared, we ran away and never came back. I could describe in perfect detail the way hot metal smells after it's been sautered, or bleach when it mixes with the sticky residue of ice cream. I could tell you how to make my "world famous" sundae exactly how I made it when I was six. But for the life of me, I can't remember what I wore last Monday.

Maybe I'll remember it four years from now...

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21 Comments:

At 24 April, 2008, Blogger geenalyn said...

i'm one of those people that have a memory like a steel trap...i remember everything, dates, numbers, things i've read, memories in general....when i was in school i never had to study because once i learned or read something i knew it. Having a memory like that is a blessing and a curse....there are quite a few things i wish i could forget...but they are locked in there for good it seems

 
At 24 April, 2008, Blogger Mike said...

My sister has the same rooted stubbornness that I have, that we probably got from our mother.

She's probably glad that she got that and not my deep baritone.

So who has the man voice, you or your brother? ;)

 
At 24 April, 2008, Blogger Lefty said...

When I was in elementary school, I had HUGE front teeth. Like dinner plates.

 
At 24 April, 2008, Anonymous kcinnova said...

On the contrary, I think a sensory-filled memory WILL make you a great writer! It is exactly those kinds of details that are important when writing-and reading-a story.
I have friends with those steel trap minds. They can recall all sorts of stories and circumstances from high school. They bring up wonderful stories with the names, the personalities, the words...you name it. I just sip my drink and smile as if I could remember it, too...but sadly, I can't.

 
At 24 April, 2008, Blogger Jay said...

I'm kind of the same way. I remember things from way back. Family dinners at restaurants, even what everybody ate. I can remember details of situations from when I was a kid. I can remember both happy and sad times.

I also remember phone numbers. But, I can't remember addresses and especially can't remember zip codes. Weird, huh?

But, if I don't put my keys in the exact same spot everyday I will lose them. If I don't make a list for the store, even if I only need 3 things, I'll come home with lots of stuff, but not the 3 things I needed.

 
At 24 April, 2008, Blogger Reb said...

I have a mind like a steel trap, it is just rusted shut and won't let anything out most days!

I can recall whole conversations, especially if I didn't think much of them at the time. On the other hand I can look at a person, know that I should know them and have no idea of their name or why I should know them.

Then of course, there is the whole "why did I come into this room?" syndrome.

 
At 24 April, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

I have no idea what I did yesterday, but I can remember weird trivia about telephone billing record standards and old X-files and STTNG episodes...

 
At 24 April, 2008, Blogger LL said...

I can remember everything but what I really want to remember... that is if I remembered that correctly...

 
At 24 April, 2008, Blogger Sparkling Red said...

Those details are gold. It's like your brain is set to "poetic" and everything else is filtered out.

 
At 24 April, 2008, Blogger Krishna said...

Smells-I remember smells. There is some laundry detergent my first long-term boyfriend used and whenever I get a whiff of it, it reminds me of him and how much i loved him (at the time) and how much I hated him for being so selfish and moving away. and that's been almost 15 years ago.

I'm also great with numbers (phone numbers, addresses, ss numbers that are not even mine, dl numbers (like my parents), etc. and spelling words.

 
At 24 April, 2008, OpenID gawilli said...

This post is the highlight of my reading this evening. I can hear your dad's alarm clock and picture Crazy Aunt Dot. I can see the mural with the frame around it, and even though you don't tell me of the images, I can use my imagination to fill in the colors and shapes. I can picture the skull of the pig and see you running away through the brush. I'll take this over what you wore last Monday any old day. Bring it on, Tink.

 
At 25 April, 2008, Blogger Freakazojd said...

Are you kidding?! THAT story was GREAT! I have always loved your writing. Didn't someone say that love is in the details?
:)

 
At 25 April, 2008, Blogger mamatulip said...

I'm the same way with smells. I'll smell something and it will trigger a whole flood of memories for me.

I loved this post Tink. :) It was so vivid.

 
At 25 April, 2008, Blogger gr said...

hey, I have an aunt Dot too, could we be cousins, Tink?

 
At 25 April, 2008, Anonymous catscratch diva said...

I love memory details. I just went back through my years, living as a teen in the 80s, with snippits of memories.

Crazy how little things can trigger them too.

Great post! Loved it!

 
At 25 April, 2008, Blogger Knight said...

I have no idea what I wore on Monday. I can't remember anything unless it happened at least two years ago. I know what I was wearing at almost any event from the past for some reason. I know the smell of ice-cream and bleach (worked in an ice-cream store). I know the smell of my exes, friends, family, schools, childhood friends homes, and so forth. I just don't have the amazing ability to write about it with the detail you do. You have a real talent their and that is where your story will come from.

 
At 25 April, 2008, Blogger Knight said...

That was the wrong there. *smacks self*

 
At 26 April, 2008, Blogger Hilary said...

Great post, Tink. I have that annoying kind of memory that makes my family crazy. Picky details of how things looked, sounded, smelled.. and what was said. And yes, the strangest things will trigger those memories. I enjoyed this snippet of your brain. :)

 
At 26 April, 2008, Blogger butterfly girl said...

That was beautiful.

Sometimes I wish I didn't remember stuff.

Who doesn't?

Word verification is tricky today, I think someone had too much to drink last night.

 
At 28 April, 2008, Anonymous jennie said...

I think your way of rembering is much more interesting.

(side note, I first typed "memoring" then had to think for a minute to decide if it was a real word. still unsure after several repititions, I changed my comment).

 
At 05 May, 2008, Blogger Aurora said...

A story that's interesting enough to tell? This one is great, and I'd love to hear the other ones too!

 

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