Saturday, August 07, 2004

Thanks for the memories?

One of my high school classmates, Alex, is in the process of organizing a milestone reunion to be held next summer. As part of that effort, another classmate, Michael, has set up a discussion group through Yahoo.

The other day, Alex posted a link to a photograph he had scanned and posted on the web. The image was our class group photo. There, in their black graduation gowns, stood everyone from our graduating class (at least all of those that were present that day).

As I looked through the picture, trying to find myself (weren't we all, back then?), I remember the day it was taken. It was the first time I had ever seen a panoramic camera. I remember being told the exposure would take about a minute and to try to hold still as the mechanical eye panned across the group. But, as I looked at the faces, I couldn't recall the names.

To be sure, there were several of my "inner circle" whom I recognized but there were many many other recognizeable faces to which I could not attach a name. On the flip side, I also see familiar names on the Yahoo group member list to which I can no longer attach a face. It's easy to say, "Oh, yes, I remember him (or her)" while thumbing through a yearbook that has the names conveniently listed with the picture.

Some, I am sure I would instantly connect if I saw them in person. Others, I'm sure my mind would race to attach a name to their visage.

As I continued searching for my own countenance I began to wonder if my recollection was incomplete due to the passage of time and the natural erosion of memories, or if high school had simply gone past on the edge of awareness.

As I read other blogs, particularly ones like ScamperBlog, and I see the detail and clarity of their memories, I wonder how much of my life has passed by in the blur of familiarity. Those things that we see every day but never really take notice of. Is it just that some people have their memory played back like a feature film and others, like me, have theirs played back like a highlight reel? Or is it that I just don't pay attention?

I'm hoping the reason is the former and that the memories impress upon me more about the emotion, what I tend to remember most, than the details of the experience. Of course, it still worries me to think that, unless I was standing in front of it, I often couldn't remember where my locker was for most of the four years it was assigned to me. There were even times when I had to trust my feet to know in which hallway to take me to find it. It thrilled me to no end when several of my friends decorated it with magic markers one year... that made it easy to spot.

So, to all of you whom I might encounter at the reunion next summer, do not be offended if I give you a funny look as I shake your hand and lean in to read your name tag.

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