Sunday, August 02, 2009
I'd forgotten how loud airplanes are. On friday, Mo and I flew from Nashville to Philly to Providence, RI - two ups and two downs, next to no turbulence, just enough clouds. Great flights, especially for Morgan, who had never been on a plane before. She had a grand time, but spent the flights with her fingers stuffed in her ears. I remember that was my first impression of flying, years ago on an army plane flying to Alaska. There were no windows and it was soooooo loud. I'm glad Mo's first plane ride was more fun than that.
We were met at the airport by a sweet old lady who couldn't remember we weren't related to her - I have no idea who she was, but her daughter apologized and I reassured her it was fine. She was friendly and a decent conversationalist for someone who wasn't sure where she was or why or who I was or why we were talking. Mo and I rode the elevator with her and met up with Jane, also not related to this lady. Jane is my Fabulous Aunty, who forgets words. There's a word for that, but, well, you know... Its cute. She sticks her tongue out and taps the tip, or makes this funny gesture, like writing on her arm while I (or whoever) try to guess what she wants to say. If you're clever, this can be great fun, as Jane quickly gets distracted from what she's trying to say. I'm not clever enough, most of the time, and simply find the word, if I can remember it. Nothing like someone else being tongue tied to make me self conscious about my own lack of facility with the spoken word.
I'm terribly forgetful when I speak, not so much when I write. I think its because I think in images - even when I'm thinking words, I'm thinking of them printed, or typed. Now and then I get bogged down wondering what font my brain is using and can't remember what I'm talking about. When I write, too, I can cheat and look things up, check a thesaurus, dig up a website so I seem to know what I'm talking about. I do know what I'm talking about, I swear! I have a huge amount of information stuffed into my head, but don't always remember the sources. Lately people have been asking me about child development, and I know a ton about it, but then someone wants a source...geez. I don't know how I know this stuff.
Forgetfulness is a family trademark, it seems, on both sides. This morning George and I had breakfast with his dad, who kept saying banjo when he meant guitar, and then went back to George's mom's house, where she was wondering where the other half of her grapefruit had gone, having eaten it yesterday. Our days and lives are full of forgetfulness. I forgot I was supposed to be compiling a blog carnival, but I have an excuse for that - the whole going-out-of-town thing. My friend Lora and I were discussing forgetfulness not too long ago, about how you can walk into the other room and realize you've forgotten why. I have a whole strategy worked out for remembering in those situations, and Lora wondered why I didn't simply have a strategy for not-forgetting. I don't recall what I told her, though. George and I joke that one day we'll be a pair of old codgers living together, not remembering who this other person is, clomping around the kitchen, drinking all the coffee.
A few months back I was chatting with another parent, a school teacher and mom, who wondered how I can possibly know what my kids have learned if I don't test them. I asked her how she knows what her kids have learned a week after the test, and she conceded that it was a good point. I'd rather watch my kids forget and remember and forget again than to have the illusion that they "know" something because they remembered it long enough to spew it out on a form. I've forgotten a great deal of what I learned in school, but I remember cramming for spelling tests in grade school and then turning around and misspelling the very words I'd spelled perfectly on the test when I'd write. I recall it being a source of hilarity for my friends and frustration for my teachers.
One of my favorite quotable authors, Jeanette Winterson, has a line about forgetting... some buddah like thing about there being nothing to remember... Naturally I don't recall the details, and since I'm not home, I can't look it up. I'm pretty sure its in Sexing the Cherry, though, if you have a copy.