I am the kind of person who remembers everything. This is not a good or bad thing and it’s not a competition, it’s just something that I do.
I remember the trivial things. One day I decided to see if I could remember my childhood best friend’s phone number, and ten years later I could (but I didn’t dial it in case someone weird answered). I have actively tried not to remember my own credit card number, because the only thing stopping me from spending every dollar I have is sheer laziness in reaching for my purse (I have now memorised it by accident, so there is no hope for me). I remember things like my first boyfriend’s birthday (January 7th 1981) and my year 1 teacher’s first name (Brenton) and the number of the bus I had to catch to the city when I was ten (703).
One day when I was about 15 my mum said to me, Anna, do you remember this family called the Edmonsons, and I said, Yes, their backyard had a paved area with a Hills Hoist to the right and a black table with five chairs and the house was a kind of cream stucco with four windows. And she said, We haven’t been there since you were ten months old and I shrugged like it was nothing but that’s a pretty long memory.
I don’t remember names. Just this morning I forgot the name of a friend’s girlfriend – a person I’ve known for at least five years. It just clean ducked out of my memory and was quite insistent about not coming back. I had to call my friend and ask him, it was so embarrassing. If you show me a photo of someone, I’ll remember their favourite food, how they take their coffee, what they smell like, where they live, what car they drive and their past three places of employment. But I will balk at their name, and just start shouting random names until I come up with one that’s close enough to spark my memory.
I remember the less trivial things too. I remember the way my first cat smelt like tuna and dandelion flowers because we used to roll in them together. I remember the recipe for my nanna’s very best scones (use wholemeal flour and brown sugar). I remember my dad’s credit card number in case I run out of my own money and urgently need to register a domain. I’ve actively tried not to remember how I felt when my favourite boyfriend left me on a train station platform to smoke on my own, forever, but that one is lodged in there too. I remember what we had for dessert on the last day of the camp I went on in year six (thin French waffles, rolled up and filled with hot caramel fudge, with whipped cream on both ends). I remembered the chef’s face many years later when I read a story about him in the paper after he’d molested fifteen schoolboys.
Sometimes I feel the memories forming at the time, and think to myself that one day I’ll tell someone else about this and remember when I started remembering it.