Total Memory Makeover

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Aging & Attitude

   I thought myself shallow remembering life more by what I wore than people and places; and hesitate to confess longing for clothing and the fond memories surrounding them.

Memories attached to  a sweet sixteen birthday gift given by my grandmother. The glove box embossed with Gimble’s logo, and secured with a gold elastic ribbon tied in a tiny bow that rested in the top corner. I recall peeling back the layered tissue paper to reveal creamy white kid gloves with a real pearl closure; and feeling adult. After a day in the city, I washed the gloves in the bathroom sink by wearing them, rolled the gloves in a towel, and laid them out to dry. In the morning, I finessed the stiff pair of gloves back to elegance.

Younger memories are of a so-soft white rabbit muff, black velvet head-scarf, green coat and matching leggings with zippers near the ankle, that I wore to Sunday mass and on walks to school.

A red and white candy cane striped dress with a red velvet bodice dominates my thoughts of family Christmas gatherings. A Brownie uniform, the sash stiff with sewn on badges, reinforces a childhood relationship with Vicki Love. Shiny patent-leather shoes with heavy metal toe and heel taps dance my feet through lessons. A black herring-bone pencil skirt purchased for 25 cents at John’s Bargain Store brings back fun shopping trips.

Later a royal blue wind-breaker takes me skiing on Windham Mountain in High School and I’ll never forget that pink and white check swim suit with poor boy pants and a zipper up the back that I wore to Puffy’s Pond where I learned to smoke.

Bell-bottom pants introduced me to my college roommate, and a clear plastic bubble umbrella and rain hat are reminders of my first job at The Berlitz School of Languages. Paper underwear; I have yet to meet anyone who remembers them, a throw away item that was short-lived (they ripped easily) but I had a few pair.

Now thanks to Marilu Henner, yes the actress in Taxi, I can free myself from guilt.

Marilu has legitimized this type of recall, defines it primary memory tracking, and believes it is a pathway technique to other memories.  She says, “It could be a sports track, a travel track, relationships, jobs that they’ve had, hairdos. I’ve heard bats even,” that connect you to your past.

She was recently interviewed by Diane Rehm, and discussed her book Total Memory Makeover. Tested and identified as autobiographical by Dr. James McGaugh, Marilu joins a select group of twenty, formed after the television show “60 Minutes” featured his research in 2010.

Autobiographical memory is distinctly different from photographic and Dr. McGaugh says people with autobiographical memory don’t’ simply remember the date Princess Diana died, they remember in detail their life on that day. MRI’s, of this small group of people, show their brains are different in size, shape and conductivity.

This trip to Washington DC for Diana Rehm’s interview, produced a drop down menu of other visits stored in Marilu’s mind by dates, going back to the first, on Saturday, January 18, 1969.

Marilu is smarter than most and has a gift, however, her Dad helped by breaking down the steps to remembering as; anticipation, participation and recollection. After holidays and family occasions they gather for a recollection party, now that sounds like fun. Sure they talked about what Uncle Jim did, but they seared the happening in their mind.

Her advice, “Find your track. It’s like in the jigsaw puzzle of your life, what are those hard-edged pieces to help you make a bigger picture? Or as my brother-in-law said, in the murky forest of your memories, what pebbles have you dropped along the way?”

I am thinking about memories and remembering differently and look forward to reading her book.

I am ready for a memory makeover.

…just saying