On the Topic of Writing

Why Writers Can’t Remember Birthdays

It’s nothing personal. Promise.

I forget birthdays, except a special few. But I remember the red scarf you wore the last time we met in the little café on the corner of Rosewood and Third, how it matched the shade of your lipstick imprinted on the white coffee cup, fingers of steam curling up, grasping at the comfortable silence between us while I watched raindrops cut trails down the window and sipped cinnamon tea.

I forget names, unless I’ve met you at least three times. Three is one of my special numbers, with five and seven. I never could remember how many feet are in a mile, ounces in a cup, seconds in a day. But I remember the rich scent of soil on an April afternoon as I pressed hyacinth bulbs into the dirt with my thumb, the drone of the first chubby bumblebee, the glistening jewels of dew on a spider web thread, the feel of sunshine warming skin and earth and coaxing life back into the barren landscape.

I forget years and ages—how old I was when impacted by a life event, what year it happened, its chronological sequence in my history. But I remember the feeling of the moment, my sense of place, my body. I stare at my hands and remember when they were small. I stare at my hands and wonder where I’ll be when I’m staring at these same hands and they’re wrinkled, my knuckles knobby from years of tapping out stories on a computer. I stare at my hands and am marveled at the dexterity of my fingers, the elasticity of my skin, the complexity of the human body, the shiny pink scars left from my past.

I forget tasks. Some I forget mere minutes after reminding myself I need to remember. Some I recall with a jolt after the deadline has already passed. Some gnaw on my mind from insemination to well beyond completion. Sometimes writing a to-do list helps…when I remember to check it.

I remember so many small things that I often forget the big ones. There’s only so much room for memories in the mind.

In many ways, writers are forgetful people. In other ways, we’re not.

But if I forget your birthday, please forgive me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *