Saturday, July 31, 2010

I’m glad I wrote my memoir before I lost my memory

I did everything in the right order. I fell in love, bought a house, got married and then wrote my memoir sitting on the couch in a grey acrylic bathrobe. Despite the attire, I got pregnant, remodeled the kitchen, had a baby. And then I duly lost my memory.

It happens to all new moms, they say. Sleep deprivation is primarily to blame. I’d tell you everything I learned about sleep and the brain from a National Geographic article I recently read, if I could only remember it.

I used to be one of those people who could remember most everything (barring numbers and dates). My husband would say, holding up a conjoined pair of wood elves, “Who is this wedding gift from again?” and I would reply, “Honey, don’t you remember? Why, it’s from Anne and Cato. They brought it over from their hometown of Bjørnemyr in Norway. And remember how when we first took it home, both the bride elf and the groom elf got decapitated in that bizarre accident with the Le Creuset pot? ’Member, ’member?”

How thoroughly annoying. Now with my appalling memory, both long-term and short-term, I’ve become monstrously similar to our dear friend Massimo who has been known to wander around the house with freshly-laundered briefs slung over his shoulder, shouting, “Where are my underwears?”

The interesting thing is how little I panic about this possible long-term damage to my cortex. Yes, I forget friends’ birthdays and the name of that guy who starred in Saturday Night Fever. So what? I’ve already written my memoir. And in such detail! I recalled word-for-word conversations, the woody smell of Felce Azzurra shower gel, the bittersweet taste of roasted chestnuts, the disarming sensation of the bed throwing itself against the wall in the earthquake....Now, three years later, sometimes I read a chapter of my own book and I’m literally on the edge of my seat wondering what in the world is going to happen next.

What is memory? An Italian acquaintance of mine has described hers as a hole through which flows a gentle breeze. Yes, memory loss can be quite refreshing. Tabula rasa. The permission to have blonde moments. However, rather than as a hole, I like to think of my memory as a kind of waffle, with holes here and there. A strangely selective memory loss. I received indisputable proof of this today while my husband and I were bathing our two-year-old in the tub.

“Hey, where did this cute little boat come from?” he asked.

Miracle of miracles, I remembered. “Oh, yes, that’s from Fiji. It was given to me by Ferdinando…no, Fernando! That old Spanish friend of mine.”

“You mean the one who sent us a picture of himself surfing naked?”


The nice thing about having memory like a waffle is that you can fill in the holes with maple syrup.

Still, I choose to fight the battle by keeping a journal and making mental grocery lists, hoping that it will all come back to me one day. But what if I am defeated and my memory never fully regains its magical powers? Then I won’t be able to write another book about my life. And then, and only then, will I finally give in, make it all up and call it fiction.


  1. Hey sis, this is just not good enough. I got totally engrossed and then it just finished. Way too short, I want more! xxxx

  2. Hi Heddi,
    I am now a great fan of your blog. Lovely writing! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I don't have any children. (but I have had memory, you know, well, I forget.) I can't wait to see the next chapters. Congratulation on this wild adventure, and I'm sure great success will follow. You have a captivating voice.
    Elise Kress, Alexandria, vA (friend of Barbara, I play the flute~and write)

  3. Hello Heddi

    Welcome to the world of blogging - what a great way to get your voice out there. Love your first post!

    As you can see I've been writing a sewing blog for nearly 2 years- there's a blog for every kind of interest and every kind of voice, it'll be a great way to connect you with other writers.

  4. Hi Sharon, Elise, Mary Kay and Mary Anna, thanks for taking out time in your busy lives to read my blog and I'm thrilled to already have fans in the U.S. - wohoo! I'm looking forward to checking out your blog, Mary Anna (you may have already mentioned it to me but I forgot...). And sis, be careful what you wish for - you know my tendency to write over the word limit...

  5. Love your writing style. You had me chuckling to myself as I was reading and I hope to read lots more in the future. x

  6. Hi Heddi

    You've got great style, and yes, I too was smiling as I read it. I think it's just a matter of time before publishers (yuck) and the like realise your gifts... (I also have memory loss but in my case it's either a mutant brain-eating cyborg or is related to age!) (I also have memory loss but in my case it's either a mutant brain-eating cyborg or is related to age!)

  7. Thanks, Sandra, for taking the time to read my postings, and for your endless encouragement. Seems I need encouragement just about every day with regards to writing! I certainly hope you don't have a brain-eating cyborg; sounds contagious!

  8. Danke, Christina. Your support means a lot to me. I'm not usually a funny writer, as you know. But if you don't laugh about these things - memory loss and rejection - what else can you do? I don't really like crying: perhaps I'll try a tantrum - seems to work for Elio.