Today on campus several people said hello, asked me about my life, and even noticed my different haircut and new bag. These people seem to know me, and like me, but I can't remember who they are. They look familiar, but whether it's from a class I took last semester, high school, or a play date when I was seven, I can't place them.
Here and there this creates a little awkwardness, but mostly I smile, inquire about their life, make a few mild jokes, and then wish them a good day before running for my life. I'm not used to this procedure so much as I go into it automatically, like some kind of social emergency operation.
The brain has long-term and short-term memory. Short term memory is limited, and is usually used to manipulate information, or to create reminders. Once something has been sufficiently learned, it is stored in long-term memory, where theoretically it stays forever, requiring only the right stimulus to bring it out. I'm sure these people are stored in my long-term memory somewhere, and that I used to like them since they remember me so fondly, but for some reason I'm not able to find the right stimulus to bring them out.
I like to think this is simple forgetfullness, but that can't be the case, as I can still remember random facts I learned when I was seven, elaborate life stories I made for myself when I was twelve, and arcane academic theories about the English language I learned when I was twenty. Some of these people I've met more recently than that, yet I can't recall who they are or where I met them.
Sadly enough, I think the simple truth of the matter is that I don't care to remember them. Things have changed dramatically for me since high school, and I present a different face to my college classmates than I do to my real friends. Either shame for who I am now, or anxiety about how people will react to me, keeps me from connecting to people in a way that lets me remember them. Their names and faces and stories are somewhere in my long-term memory, but I no longer have, or no longer want to find the triggers that will give me access.
4 hours ago