Tag Archives: forgetting

First and Lasts

So it’s Tuesday, the day after I usually post, and I will tell you that this is the first time I forgot to post. I thought of it over the weekend, perused my usual half-baked ideas, and then it all fell out of my head as Monday came and went. But I will cut myself some slack; I’ve been experiencing a lot of “lasts,” what with the kid heading out to college in 9 days. I’m determined not to get all hand-wringing and empty-nest mopey on you — that’s not my style, but I have been surprised by the little things that have hit me. Grocery shopping and realizing I don’t have to buy those specific apple/grape juice 6 packs anymore. Or at least not for a few months. Which is great, because half the time the store is out of them anyway. 

All that is cluttering up my noggin, which, let’s face it, has never been a bastion of reliable memory preservation. Add in North Korea and Cheeto flea having a toddler screaming match, where the toddlers have access to nuclear weapons, and hate groups assembling under the guise of free speech, and I’m pretty much toast over here. I actually had the thought last week that this might be it, but North Korea is standing down for now, so I live to forget another day. 

But I refuse to give in to despair. For one thing, my grandparents and dad had a pretty frightening, shitty time of it in Holland during WWII, and my other grandfather, when he had food at all in his childhood, ate primarily salt pork and beans and lived well into his 80s; it’s in my genes to keep going. For another, there’s plenty of positive things going on. People are working to make things better and there are countless acts of kindness going on all around us all the time. Yesterday, I was canoeing on a quiet river, and the beavers and birds I saw going about their bird and beaver business reminded me there is a balance. That, and life on a quiet sleepy, river might be a good plan B. 

So, once the kid is launched, I will take a deep breath and continue to contribute the best I can. In the meantime, I’ll keep forgetting things, but I promise to do it with peace and hope. 


This week I had a flashback to when my kid was a baby. He is now an 18-year-old senior, and even with teenager shenanigans, I’d still rather have a teen than a baby. Babies turned out to be not so much my thing, and you won’t see me hanging creepily around families with babies, staring too long. If I’m hanging around, it will be for some other completely different creepy reason.

But that’s another blog post.

So there I was Friday afternoon, focused solely on my offspring, making sure he was packed for our overnight trip to visit a college for accepted student day. Yes, we’re on the home stretch of Collegepalooza, and I love the dean who said while polling the kids about the other colleges they were deciding on, “And how many of you can’t decide and are driving your parents crazy?” My kid raised his hand. See? Better than a baby.

I had already packed, so my stuff was in the car. I asked a few more “Did you bring your [fill in the blank]” questions and it seemed we were ready.  We were going to stop at my sister’s house for dinner as a driving break and then drive for another hour or so and head to a hotel near the college. This was my attempt to recover from the previous week’s accepted student day at a college closer to home. It turns out you can shave 30 minutes off the drive time in Boston if it’s a Sunday morning. Since I try never to be awake early Sunday morning, this is not something I would know. And now that I do know I don’t have to wake up at 6:30 am on Sunday, I was hell-bent on not doing that again. So, we were booked at a hotel well within roll-out-of-bed-grab-coffee-and-get-to-the-event distance.

So on Friday, I did a last check in on the kid, he grabbed his driving learner’s permit, I had my coffee in hand, glanced around the house for anything being obviously forgotten, and did the little mantra, “Well, whatever we forgot, we’ll just buy another one,” and off we went. As I was overly pleased with my cleverness, it wasn’t until we were two hours into the trip that I realized what I forgot.

My wallet.

I don’t carry a purse because I find them annoying. Also the name is stupid, second only to pocketbook. If the garment industry would actually make all women’s clothes with pockets, we wouldn’t even need the darn things. In the winter, I mostly use what my friend calls a coat purse. I put the three things I need — phone, keys and wallet — in the pockets of my coat. In summer, they go in my pants pockets, unless I’m wearing a cute sundress, and then I have compromised with a crossbody bag, which is absolutely not a purse. It fits only those three things, and if I’m feeling spatially up to it, I can squeeze in my sunglasses.

But on Friday, I had switched coats and as I was focused on my offspring, I’d left my own important thing in the old coat. This happened a lot to me when my kid was a baby. On trips I’d make sure he had everything he needed because the price for leaving behind the favorite toy, or the baby wipes, or the kid himself was rarely worth paying. The Department of family Services can be a real bitch about that kind of thing.

On the highway, I realized the only ID we had between us was the driving learner’s permit, which clearly stated it could not be used as a form of ID.

Now the real fun began. Do hotels ask for ID when you check in? I could recollect handing over my driver’s license and my credit card at a counter, but I couldn’t tell you in what circumstances that had occurred — the airport? Renting a car? Buying Sudafed? Were hotels in that mix? Then of course was the paying part. Would they take Apple Pay on my phone? Did I even know how to use Apple Pay on my phone? Did my sister have a couple hundred bucks in cash lying around I could borrow?

I called my sister and gave her the heads up. She did have cash, but other than that there wasn’t much we could do until I got to her house. When I did I called the hotel. The front desk person said they did accept cash (rather snootily declining to even answer the question about Apply Pay, I may add). However, that was moot because they needed an ID to check me in. That’s when I wondered, what do people who are sneaking around having an affair do? Losing all the dark outdoor spaces for secret trysts is bad enough, and now you have to identify yourself if you take it indoors. What is this world coming to?

The hotel woman did say they’d accept a photo of my ID if someone was at my house and could take a picture and send it to me. Somehow, that seemed even more stupid than requiring one in the first place. How serious is this requirement if you’ll accept a photo of a photo ID?

So I sat in a small puddle of self-pity for a few minutes, but then within the next hour, my sister had procured an airbed so we could sleep over, she had cash to give me and coffee, and the hotel didn’t charge me for canceling late — clearly the right thing to do since I was physically unable to check in, but the “right thing to do” and “payment policies” rarely rub up against each other, so I was grateful for that.

All that was left was not attracting any police attention and the fact that I had to do all the driving. I was pretty sure I’d be able to talk my way out of not having a licence if I got pulled over, but if my son got pulled over, with only one form of unacceptable ID between us,  we were pretty much toast. But I drove the speed limit, a novelty for sure, and no one did anything stupid near me on the road, also a novelty.

Sending a big thanks to my sister and the universe for getting us to where we needed to go. My kid still doesn’t know where he wants to go to school, but at least I know that next time, I’m letting him forget something.


The Registry of Forgotten Statistics

The week I realized my ex and I were pretty much over each other was the week I had to get a copy of our marriage certificate. It’s required in order to get a divorce, which I find pretty funny. Is the state trying to prevent people from falsely filing for divorce? “You know, we never got legally married, but let’s put one over on the state and file for divorce. Those nice lawyers and mediators need our savings, the courts could use the fees, and I just love to have strangers comb through every single personal and financial document I have. What a great prank!”

I had just moved and culled my possessions, so I knew what I had and didn’t have, and I didn’t have the certificate. My ex didn’t either. But it was more than that. You know when you’re trying to find something important but rarely used, you can picture in your mind the three likely places you put such things. Or, you have a memory of putting it somewhere and thinking “It will be safe here,” and that starts your search. I stopped and thought. It should have been with the birth certificates and passports, but it wasn’t.  I thought and thought. Nothing. My mind was like a deserted Western town, with tumble weeds rolling by in the wind. It was weird. Now I know it’s been 20 years and maybe it’s my mid-life brain or maybe it was the universe playing a good joke, but either way, I couldn’t even conjure up a fake memory of what the hell happened to that thing. So I was off to the state website for the Registry of Vital Statistics to go about getting a replacement. I just hoped it’ wasn’t like when you get a replacement drivers license and all the bouncers look at it for a really long time before letting you in. (OK, it’s been 20 years since a bouncer did that, but still it’s embarrassing.) I imagine the judge will examine it closely, then pierce us with an over-the-half-glasses stare, “Are you sure this is real?” “Aw shucks, you got us! We’re just messin’ with ya!”

So the website tells me I can pay $75 to have it mailed, faxed, or emailed, or come in person and pay $20. This makes no sense in the business world, but apparently makes complete sense for civil service. Maybe our civilization would absolutely break down if we weren’t forced to wait in long lines to get government documents. I shudder at the thought. But for those of you who miss face-to-face customer service and don’t like it when a business encourages you to email or sort through a help forum before calling, I suggest you go right down to the Registry of Vital Statistics and order up all your certificates and have a great time. I prefer societal breakdown and email.

I resigned myself to going, but comforted myself with the fact that at least it must be in Boston proper, right? Maybe next to another registry, like the Registry of Motor Vehicles, or next to the courthouse. Ohhhhh nooooooo. That would never do. It’s actually in an out-of-the way place that is the farthest it can be from downtown and still be considered within Boston’s borders. A friend suggested the location protects the vital records in case Boston gets invaded. I think a black market identity selling scheme is more likely. After all, this is the place that has volumes of musty books recording the births, deaths, and marriages of Boston’s citizens since the 1600s—this is the identity mother load. Although I guess having a fake ID with the name Jedediah Cobbler would probably raise awkward questions sooner or later.

So, off I went to get a fake ID, I mean my vital statistic, and a mere two train rides and long walk later, I arrived. And my first task, of course, was to fill out a form. I wrote our names, place of marriage, and then got stuck on the date. Just like when I was trying to place the certificate at home, the tumble weeds were rolling again. The swinging door to the saloon banged in the wind. I had the date engraved in my wedding ring, but I stopped wearing it. I knew the month and year, but it took a full minute to conjure up the day, and I only managed that because I actually looked at that month on my phone and seeing the number triggered my memory.

I handed over the money, got my certificate, and secretly wondered if they could tell I needed it to get divorced. I headed back to work via a long walk and two train rides and was not at my desk for more than 10 minutes when my ex called. He was filling out some preliminary separation paperwork and couldn’t remember my birthday. Like me and the marriage certificate, he’d remembered the year and the month, but couldn’t place the day. I told him, and when I got off the phone, I just started to laugh. We were clearly both moving on, letting go of our now non-vital statistics. I should have charged him $75 for the phone call.

Photo Credit: Raging Fluff blog