I have very good memory. Actually, that’s an understatement. I have near perfect memory. I remember things from the time I was about 3 in vivid detail. My parents are still surprised at the amount of stuff I can remember. I remember a short grocery list from when I was about 8 (jugo de naranja, pan campesino y chiclets Clorets) and so does my sister. I remember the names of all my dolls, the names of all my teachers and the first, middle and two last names of the 54 people I went to high school with. Which gets me to my next point: as good as my memory is, my memory for what other people tell me about themselves is what is really, really good. I have almost total recall for things other people tell me.
Last week I was having dinner at a friend’s house and we were talking about a guy she was sort-of-dating then sort-of-not-dating for a while. In April this friend and I had gone to a fitness class together (a Sunday afternoon spin class in U St) after which she said she was going to this guy’s house to shower and to eat pizza. My friend dropped me off close to home and maybe went to the guy’s house, I don’t know. When I saw her last week, three months after the spinning class, I asked her about the “pizza shower guy.” She could barely remember that had happened and was surprised that I could. I can. And I did.
But I don’t always. Remembering everything about other people has a bad side and a good side. The bad side is that if I don’t keep it in check people think I am stalking them or taking an unusual interest in them. I am not. I remember everything about everyone. I remember the name of the guy that cuts the grass in my mom’s house in Caracas, where I haven’t lived for 10 years. I remember the full name of my childhood dentist who I obviously haven’t visited in about 20 years. To avoid appearing weird to people I often pretend that I don’t know or don’t remember something they said. The plus side of having excellent memory is that you can make good friends with people because since I already know what they want to talk about, I can ask them about that. And people never remember that they already told me. I can also remember people’s birthdays, which people tend to find flattering and not awkward.
Remembering everything is wonderful. I can and do entertain myself replaying stories of things that happened a long time ago or scenes or poems that I remember. And the fantastic thing about remembering everything is that I can remember to say “oh, have we met before? I don’t remember” to people whose names and life stories I probably already know.