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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sideshows and Party Tricks

Ever since I've made the decision to post more personal stories in this blog, I've had to rethink the way I present my blog.  Not so much in terms of layout, but how to tell the story. 

It's come to my attention that in my thirty-five year history, I've had a lot of stories that I have wanted to tell, but felt that I couldn't for various reasons.  Partly because I didn't think anybody would be interested.  Partly because I didn't think anyone would believe a word I had to say.

But mostly because I wasn't sure exactly how people would react to them.  Because, let's face it.  As Canadian chanteuse singer Amanda Marshall once sang in 2001, everybody's got a story that'll break your heart.  I've got some.  You probably have some.  We all have them.

So, just know this.  Before I go ahead with today's story, I just want all of you to know that I am not singling any particular people out with this admission.  This is more or less a generalization of what I've encountered.  I'm not pointing a finger of accusation at anyone.  Instead, this is another opportunity for me to speak my mind and set some things straight.

And's story.

I have always been told that my memory is sharp.  In fact, one of my teachers - I believe it was my grade school French teacher, Mrs. Ruston, that told my parents that I had a photographic memory and that she had never seen any student quite like me.  And that's not me bragging.  That's exactly how I remember the conversation going.

Because as she said before, I have a photographic memory.

I guess this is one of those admissions that might not surprise a whole lot of people.  For me to remember things that happened thirty years ago as if they had just happened yesterday is something that not a lot of people can do.  I can even assign certain dates to when certain events in my life happened - in some cases, right down to the exact day.  Most people may not know what they were doing on May 23, 1995, but I remember being at Canada's Wonderland eating chicken fingers and losing forty bucks to a pickpocket while I was there.  Luckily, I had other money stashed in my suitcase so it wasn't a complete disaster.

Now, this photographic memory was kind of a double-edged sword in many ways.  The positives were quite plentiful.  I could master a video game, not play it for years, and still remember how to play it.  I always did well on tests in school because I could absorb the study material like a sponge.  And I never had to worry about losing anything because my attention to detail meant that I could remember every little detail about an item right down to its colour, texture, size, and if applicable, scent.

On the flipside, some of the cons meant that I could remember everything that happened to me that was bad - which explains why sometimes I have a harder time letting go of traumatic events than other people do.

But still...when you can remember things that most other people can't, it does fascinate people who seem shocked that my brain can hold so many things inside of it.  One of the first things I did to showcase my memory was memorize every single colour of the Laurentian pencil crayon brand and link it with its corresponding number.  That way, if someone randomly called out the number 17, I knew it was "Smoke Grey". 

Soon after, certain people seemed to think that my ability to remember the pencil crayon colours was something that had to be shared with everyone nearby.  So whenever people came over to visit, they would test me on naming the numbers with the colours, and whenever I did, they were blown away.  I guess I was too young to understand why that was the case.  It was just something that I did.  I couldn't explain why.  It was just the way that it was.

It also got to the point where my memory would come in handy for schoolwork too, as I could remember how to spell words without any help from the teacher, a dictionary, or thesaurus.  And when the rest of the kids found out, they came up to me and asked me to spell words for them so that they could do their work perfectly.  At first, I didn't mind it because - you know - they were being nice to me so I would help them.  But when recess came around and I wanted to play with the same kids I helped, they pretended they didn't see me.

And to be honest with you, I got that feeling a lot.

It was almost as if people were treating me like I was one of those sideshow freaks that you would see at the circus or at Ripley's Believe It Or Not exhibits.  Right between the bearded lady and the elastic man was the kid who could remember anything and everything.  It was almost like a game to people shouting numbers at me just so I could tell them the colour that was associated with them, or spelling words at the drop of a hat, or even remembering the details of comic books that I had read.  And then once I entertained them enough, they grew bored and moved on to the next big thing.

Here's a confession for all of you.


And I suppose the main reason why I feel so strongly about this is because I don't particularly think it is fair to have people seem to only be interested in one part of a person's personality.  I happen to have a photographic memory.  But that's not all that I have.  I bet if people would sit back and really listen to what I have to say, they might find that there are a whole lot of other qualities that they might like as well.  I just wish that people wouldn't see me as being nothing more than a memory bank.  I am a person and I do have feelings like everybody else. 

But you know, one of the things in regard to having a photographic memory is that I can remember lots of things that other people might not...and while there are some things that I'd rather forget...there are some memories that I will never be able to.

Such as June 30, 2000 - the day I got my high school diploma. 
Or, December 8, 2004 - the day I first started my job.
Or, May 24, 2011 - the day I started this blog.
And of course, July 15, 2015 - the day I became a homeowner.

But more importantly, I hope that there are some memories that still have yet to come that I hope to experience.  If I ever get married, my wife would never have to worry about me forgetting our wedding anniversary.  If I decide that one day I want to have children, I would never forget their birthdays.  And, I'm sure that whatever milestones that I have over the next part of my life come my way...I'll have the ability to remember them all.

That's what I believe a photographic memory should be used for.  Heartfelt memories.  Not sideshows and party tricks.

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