Monday, February 20, 2012

The Unreliability of Memory

My super-fantastic husband has been systematically cleaning out our boiler room over the past several weeks (hey, there's floor! and a workbench! and I can get to the oil tank without gouging out my abdomen on the weight bar!), and yesterday he found one of my old photo albums.

It has pictures in it from the end of my senior year of high school, graduation, the summer before college, and the weekend I arrived at Ohio Wesleyan. You know that funky slide into nostalgia you get when you look at stuff from 24 years ago? I'm kind of wallowing in it right now.

It's odd. I don't really consider myself a sentimental person. I told him to toss some ugly homemade ornaments from my childhood, including a particularly unfortunately clay design I made:

Me: Throw it away. It's ugly. 

Him: Nooo! It looks like poop!

But wow, do these photos have me missing the good old days. And that makes me resentful, because if there's anything I hate almost as much as close-minded absolutism, it's being a cliché. But after a childhood of being shy and introverted and picked on, my senior year of high school was pretty awesome. I'm very happy in the life I'm living now, so it's not like I'm wishing for change. I just miss some of the best parts of those times.

It's also interesting how faulty memory is, both good and bad. In mine, I'm always overweight. I lost 25 or so pounds that senior year of high school, and I weighed 117 when I left for college. I *know* intellectually how fantastic that is. But I don't remember it that way. I remember poochy belly and flabby inner thighs and jiggliness where you don't want it. But then I see this:

I look pretty good! If you ignore the 80s waistbands and hair. But OMG, the hair. I remember the curls from senior prom as being not the way I wanted them, but not awful. Um, yeah, they were awful. Very frizzy. I got what was supposed to be a spiral perm right before I went to college. I wanted it just like my friend Sue's, and I event went to her hairdresser. But I guess the wife usually did Sue's, I don't know. The husband cut and cut and cut and permed and cut some more. It was like a Brillo pad. Literally. Wiry and rough and tight and horribly, horribly short. I remember it as being bad...and still, it was worse.

I'm not posting those pictures. Some things should just remain off the Internet.

One side effect of nostalgia is a reminder of how grateful I am to all the kids in the Ichabod Crane Central High School classes of 1988 and 1989. They welcomed me into their classes and social circles, invited me to parties and *didn't* follow up by saying they didn't want to be friends with me anymore. Without them, I never would have gained the confidence and self-esteem that got me through college and gave me the ability to have the friendships I do now.

And maybe even more importantly, the passion to write romance novels.


Sara Walter Ellwood / Cera duBois said...

OH, Natalie... Don't you know it! I graduated in '88 and I still remember the prom dresses... We all looked like escapees from a Gone With the Wind casting call. With hair out to here and curled and curled and curled yet some more.

Thanks for allowing me to share in the memories....

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I want to see your prom dress! LOL

Mine wasn't bad. Sleeves a little puffy, but otherwise flattering. My HAIR was definitely...ugh! LOL

Thanks for commenting!