"My memory serves me far too well," George Michael sang on his classic 1990 single "Freedom."
I wish I could say the same.
Well, to be honest, occasionally, I can. There are times when my memory seems to be positively photographic: Some images from my childhood are indelible, more vivid today than they were 30 years ago. And sometimes my mind will hang onto a particularly traumatic episode and every minute detail about it (such as being dumped by email while I was on vacation in Rio nearly six years ago and the crappy way I felt for weeks afterwards), even though I'd much rather contract selective amnesia and forget the whole sordid mess. But why oh why can't I remember hardly anything about high school (including what I was thinking when I styled myself for my 9th-grade school photo, above)?
I'm not talking about the things I learned in Algebra or Science or Latin class, which, truth be told, retreated to the remote crevices of my brain eons ago. I'm talking about people, people who may or may not once have been very important to me. I may never really know because I can't remember them.
One of my favorite things about Facebook is reconnecting with so many people from the past. I'm not completely sure how or why some of them track me down, but I'm sometimes quite glad that they do. But too often, I sit staring at profiles, analyzing the photos, trying to come up with some clue as to who the hell is looking back at me. It's not just that many of the females now go by their married names, or that 20-plus years can take a physical toll. Sometimes even the mention of maiden names, or blast-from-the-past photos do nothing to jog my memory.
Contributing to the insanity is the fact that some of my former classmates, inexplicably, now have adult children who are the same age as some of the guys I've dated in Buenos Aires! What?! Were they conceived on graduation night?! And God only knows what they think of Jeremy Version 2009, a completely different creature from Jeremy Version 1987. One old classmate from elementary school through high school, whom I actually did remember, was shocked when she saw the pictures in my profile and sent me a truly revelatory message: "I could not get over how suave you look! I remember you wearing plaid shirts and docker type pants, almost on the verge of being nerdy. You are definitely one of those guys that came out of their shell after high school."
Wow! I had no idea that I was gave the impression of being so hopelessly freeky and geeky, but now that I think about it, she is probably right. I was a wreck, a piping-hot mess! I was always well-known and well-liked for being one of the smartest kids in school (revenge of the nerd?), but I was far from being one of the beautiful people. Thanks for the observation, Tammy. And thanks for bothering to say something.
The ones I don't remember almost never bother to say anything, perhaps providing some clue that will sweep the cobwebs from my memory banks. (Hey, maybe they don't remember me either and just added me because I was a "friend" of a "friend" and looked vaguely familiar.) It's probably for the best since I'd rather not insult anyone by uttering those three words that no old acquaintance wants to hear 20 years later: "Who are you?" So I press "accept" and wait for the next one.
Ooh, it's my old friend Carrie, whom I haven't seen or spoken to in about a billion years! So nice to reconnect! You look fabulous! Doesn't Facebook just rock?