Scared to Forget


Kate Wolffe, Editor in Chief

When I was a kid- four or five, maybe- I went through a phase in which I was always scared. I was terrified of forgetting things. I thought that everything, from little wispy memories to people I knew and loved, would disappear from my mind if I didn’t think of them once a day, everyday. So I did. I was constantly pausing in the course of my day’s activities: screwing my little eyes shut, clenching my fists, and thinking of everything I could in rapid succession.


You see, I had a system: I would start with my family members, go on to friends, replay the day’s events, and eventually segue to the plots of my favorite books and the exact decorating scheme of the best places in the world: my room, my aunt’s home, my grandmother’s kitchen . All of these little memories were significant to me; things I thought I would be lost without. It was imperative that I remember them. If, later in the day, I realized there was something that I hadn’t thought of, I would berate myself. This happened often enough that I was always angry, I couldn’t believe that I’d forgotten to think about my old summer camp counselor, or the ending of A Little Princess. At five years old, I was stuck in a never-ending cycle of ferocious nostalgia, and frustrated disappointment in myself. It seems a little ridiculous now, thinking back, but when you’re five, and terrified, practicality isn’t on the top of your list of priorities.


I think that on a deeper level, my obsessive behavior stemmed from my fear of forgetting my father, who had passed away the year before. I thought that if I didn’t think daily about the way that his arms surrounded me when he would pick me up, or the feel of his hair against my tiny hands when I sat on his shoulders, or the music of his laugh: deep and smooth, I would forget forever. I thought that I wouldn’t have anything left to hold on to. In my desperate need to remember, I forgot that you can’t lose the things you learn from a person, or the emotions you associate with them.

As second semester of my senior year rolls around, I suddenly realize that I’ve begun to revert to my old habit. There are beautiful memories that are occurring daily that I find myself wishing to never forget: precariously balancing a hot Zachary’s box on my legs as I hand a slice of Spinach & Mushroom over to eager hands, watching the sun fall behind the San Francisco skyline, singing cheesy ballads at full blast while winding up El Toyonal.  Through it all, my friends and family have encircled me in a blanket of love and security, that now I fearfully realize won’t be draped over me next year as I embark on a journey outside of the place I have called home these last 14 years.


I know that I will need the comfort of my experiences as I go on into unfamiliar territory in the years to come, but there is no need to squeeze my eyes shut, clench my fists, and pour over the perfect memories in order for them and the love they hold to stay with me. I know that I am, as Chuck Palahniuk once wrote, “the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known”. As we go in our different directions, we must remember that although it is scary to leave behind our friends, family, and routines, they will never be too far, and the lessons they instilled and the feelings they provoked will never truly leave us.