Rarely do I ever go see a movie after I’ve read the book it was based on, especially if I liked the book. I know the movie will leave half of the plot out, or change the plot so much I will hardly recognize it. The first time I saw Gone with the Wind, I was angry. I wanted every single tidbit of the book, every detail. Where were Scarlett’s other two children? And what about her first husband, Charles? Before I ever saw it, I’d read the book about ten times. I could practically recite it. How dare they change it so much? A couple of years ago a friend and I, both Jodi Picoult fans, went to see My Sister’s Keeper. If I had not read the book, I would have been impressed, but I was too busy remembering what actually happened in the book to enjoy what was happening in the movie. It was hardly the same story at all.
Memory alters our lives much like the movie industry alters good books. I find most interesting the things our brains choose to remember. There are far too many incidents in a lifetime to remember everything, so our brains select for us. Why don’t I remember my grade school teachers’ names, except the one who completely embarrassed me by correcting my grammar? Of course, Miss Browning influenced my whole life with that correction and made me want to correct my grammar. I guess that might be a logical memory.
I remember very little from my four years at the University of Georgia. The whole period is a blur of classes with an occasional ball game thrown in. No teacher stands out in my mind except one very bad one—Dr. Girard. He taught us nothing and then gave assignments as if he’d taught us everything. He spoke at length of his travels in France and then tested us on the origin of the language. What a lunatic he was. If I’d known then what I know now, I would have complained. I paid him for teaching me rien, and not only that, I had to walk up Lumpkin Hill winter quarter to his 8:00 a.m. class. I do remember graduating though, and I have a diploma to prove it. I don’t understand why my memory card is so empty of this rather important period of my life.
Consider Christmas, for another example. We make a really big deal of choosing the right presents for our children, but of all my childhood Christmases, I remember very few of the gifts I received. There was the gag gift Mama gave me when I was in college. When I was home for Thanksgiving, I was helping her wrap presents and saw a doll she’d bought for my little sister.
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “This is a cool doll. They didn’t make them like this when I was little. I would have loved to have this doll.”
I don’t know what else I got that year, but I received a doll just like Bonnie’s. I remember books and the ring that got stuck on Bill’s finger in church, but that’s it for all the presents of my youth and childhood. I do remember the warmth and love of the holiday seasons. Those memories are firmly entrenched in my brain and I’m thankful for them. They are far more important than stuff anyway.
Much of my childhood is a blur. I do remember Mama getting me up at 4:00 a.m. to go visit our Florida relatives and go to the Jacksonville Zoo. Do I EVER remember motion sickness! Sometimes though when I try to remember specifics, I find it impossible. How then can I look at my little finger and remember that Mama’s looked exactly like mine? I didn’t know that information was in my memory.
Scientists say that the brain is made up of wrinkles in which we store our memories. Perhaps some memories are deeper than others and only pop up when we are least expecting them. I’m not sure, but all this memory work is giving me a headache, so I think I’ll take my wrinkly brain off to bed.