Thursday, February 23, 2012

Of Memory and Recollection

Memories are funny things.

True story: Once upon a time, before a rugby game in college, I ran into a fence.

I remember lots of things about that event. The exclamation from my teammate when she realized the ball she kicked was going to go over to the fence; the thought that I could run and catch the ball before it did so; the impact of face against metal fence post; the immediate thought that my cheeks were now concave and not convex - all of these things are still clear.

I remember hearing my coach - usually a very 'walk it off' kind of man - running up to me as I moaned on the ground, hands over my surprisingly still intact cheek and and muttering, "I'm not getting up this time"  in anticipation of his gruff ways and how he surprised me instead by taking my face gently in his hands and looking at me before saying, "Oh, Erin, you look beautiful."

I spent that entire game on the sidelines with ice on my face and tears copiously running down my cheeks from the chilliness .  All of these details feel as though they happened just last year.  I remember the teasing from my roommates and the questions from classmates and the taunts from rugby coaches (long after the incident).  My eldest sister took me to the emergency room and asked lots of helpful questions as the doctor pushed and prodded my cheek bone and promised that I hadn't actually broken anything.  The pushing on the bone hurt so much though that I was afraid he was going to finish the task the fence hadn't accomplished.  I could actually feel my bones give under his tension - it was a very weird feeling.

All these funny little memories that gather around one single event.  I can relive the entire experience every time I so choose.


I can't remember which cheek I ran the fence into nor which eye I blackened.  Was it my left or my right?

You'd think I'd remember such an important detail in this story.  But I can't.  I honestly can't.

How could that be?  Why did my mind remember so much and capture so much of the feelings of pain and embarrassment, of the sound of my coach's voice and my teammate's exclamation?  How can I remember the clang of my face against the fence and not remember which cheek ran into that fence?

Fascinating.  Simply fascinating.


  1. What helpful questions did I ask? And were they really "helpful"?

    1. For one, do you remember how handsome and young my ER doctor was? Always good questions to find out any relevant information about his life. Also, you helped ask questions about the necessity of an x-ray after he did the whole push-on-your-cheek-bone-until-you-scream-or-it-breaks. Very helpful.

  2. I don't remember any of this! All I remember was you having that huge bump on your face. I don't even recall taking you to the ER. This is so sad! I'm so old!