Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Memory lanes and traffic jams.

“Excuse me!”

That’s it; they’ve eventually had enough of my trespassing. Although I try to tread very carefully on the wooden parquet floor of this store, I almost land my feet similar to the way a robot move his tripodal legs with the precision of hydraulic mechanism and the quietness of rubber clamping on wood and a weight applied gradually and carefully so that the parquet doesn’t squeak.

I am a thoughtful person after all, you know.

I turned around and saw this guy clad in black suit. He was standing behind a low counter; a friendly looking standalone counter in a high-end store. He had a friendly look on his face. Of course, I thought to myself, these guys would rip you off and graze your flesh alive and they would still smile. I wouldn’t have walked through this place anyway, unless I heard of an item that is outstandingly cool. I am here because that’s the only shortcut by which I can avoid having to walk for fifteen more minutes to get to where I wanted to go.

“Yes?” I said. You talking to me? I thought of adding Robert De Nero’s line but decided not to.

He was comfortable, and much more friendly than the usual average.

He said: “Do I know you?”

It all came back in a fraction of a second. Yes, it’s him. It’s bloody him. Man he’s still the same: short, chunky, full wide cheeks, dark hair, dark skin, the same courtesy, the same amiability. The same stealth aggressiveness. That’s the last impression I had of him, although I couldn’t remember where it was or how it’s ended. There might have been a fall out. We were high school kids and the testosterone was running high. He hadn’t changed much. Or maybe he did. But the reminiscence of the moment and the familiarity of one face from back in the days, that would usually evoke long-forgotten memories, would make your smile (or frown or sad face) contour your facial muscles the way it did back then. I believe this is how I managed to remember this guy after twelve years of not seeing him (or even hearing about him).

After a brotherly salams and pleasant and short recap of ‘where the hell have you been’ and ‘what brings you here’…etc…etc…we’ve exchanged phone numbers. I actually remembered his name, his younger brother’s name, and his father’s name. His building and the floor. And the color of the draperies on his room’s window. It’s uncanny. I remembered where he used to sit in class. And each name of the six comrades that were occupying the six seats in his direct vicinity. Two of them were constant trouble for him: they used to ridicule all his writing in the Arabic Composition class. He used to be good; a linguistic prowess combined with an eccentric habit of giving out all the details about his romantic life. Now if you ask me, some of his faux pas were ridicule-worthy, partly because of his unawareness of the shenanigans of metro life.. Even though he was a friend back then, he wasn’t spared my occasional sarcasm. That’s how brutal it was! … I wouldn’t have expected him to be working in such a place where you have fussy clients and a pricing policy that need to be backed up with the proper sales pitch and gimmicks. But he looked smart and right in place.

He didn’t remember my name, though. Even though he said it was the second time he had seen me passing through. But he said that I’ve ‘physically’ changed very much since than. Which is probably true.

Now I’ve been having memory lapses myself. I read somewhere that they are ‘normally’ associated with the imminence of the third decade of the short lifespan of a heavy smoker. So I wasn’t worried much about it. But I was somehow happy with my strong recollection of almost everything that I ever knew about this old buddy. The information rolled out on my mind screen the way the old DOS script rolled on black background when you command-called them.

I come now to the conclusion and the question I wanted to ask of you, my dear readers, especially those who are in the same age bracket as me: do you remember your old buddies from high school? And how much do you remember of them?

Thank you very much.


KJ said...

I actually DO remember SO MUCH about them! Except for a couple of people - but generally most of my school friends are on my FB and we know each other well! (until the point we split up anyway)

abufares said...

You are way better than many people. Then again, I\'m over 40. I think all hell breaks lose once you cross that milestone. I remember just about 10 names out of all my school mates. I know them because they are still my friends!
My short term memory is getting worse but I have always been terrible with names.

Allie said...

It's both for me. I remember everything about the ones I didn't consider significant when I was younger, and so very little about the ones who I felt "impacted me" at the time. Strangely, I can't even remember the last names of some that I ran around with but can remember the full life stories of people I never would've wanted to spend time with.

kaya said...

In college I had 3 very very special friends who meant the world to me. Somehow we drifted apart, and as there was no internet or mobile phone in those days, we all got busy with our lives.
I have in the last couple of years been frantically searching for them on yahoo, blah blah.
Its amazing, but I eventually found 2 of them through facebook. The third I had a falling out with and though she is in touch with one of them, I have abstained from inquiring about her, other than wishing her well.
Our falling out was quite extreme, as she was my best friend , and then my brother's girlfriend. And things just got ugly.
But its been good to reconnect with the other two, to see them married, with kids, well settled and happy.
I dont think a lot about those years but when I do I think of them and all the crazy things we could and would get up to.
I am glad you saw someone from the past. As you get older, its nice to step back and remember some things. But its funny how sometimes your reconnection is instant and sometimes you have drifted so far apart that you wonder how you were friends to start with.

kaya said...

Dont worry abt memory loss. Myself I just bother to remember a few birthdays, and stuff that gets me through the day.
My mind is like a sieve. I remember only what concerns me on a NOW basis. Everything else just passes through.
And there are some things that I can never forget, that haunt me.

Paige said...

Well, we are actually all in touch on FB. I remember them quite well, and we haven't changed all that much, even though that was quite a few years ago. Speaking of FB, where did you go??? I hope you're doing well. :0)

CG said...

I have also forgotten a lot of people who I considered myself to be close to, way back then. Memory loss is rather selective I feel, some things are as clear as day to me.

Recently I have been in contact with some old school friends, and everyone seems to be suffering the same fate.

Welcome to dementia. Blame it on tobacco if you like, but age would be a more accurate blame;)