Generally speaking, I don’t have a particularly great memory for events from my own life. I have a seemingly boundless ability to recall irrelevant trivia, but when it comes to the minutia of my own existence, I’m often at a loss. However, there is a specific type of event that seems to lodge in my memory with fairly good reliability, and that is first meetings. I was inspired to write about this today, because May 10th is the birthday of my friend Scott (and in Japan, where he lives, it is already May 10th), prompting me to think about the first time I met him.
A blast from the past, but it's the best picture I have of the two of us.
Scott lived down the hall and around the corner from me my freshman year at Wash U.The first time we ever spoke was at the very first floor meeting for residents of Beaumont’s third floor (which was actually the fourth floor, but that’s neither here nor there).I had gotten there early, and secured a chair in the corner, and Scott showed up later and sat down next to me, on the air-conditioning vent. He made some sort of joke; we started talking, and the rest is history.
I have similar memories for almost all my college friends. I met Katherine L. at a game of Catchphrase in my dorm room. There must have been between 15 and 20 people crammed in there playing, and she and I were both sitting on my bed, with one person seated between us, such that we were on the same team. Before we even knew each other we already had a mystical brain-wave connection that would later turn us into an indomitable board game force, and when one of us received the word “precipice” the other was able to guess it. We were so amazed that we became friends right away.
I met Abel on Halloween of my freshman year.Scott and Katherine knew him through their Japanese classes, and they invited him over for Halloween, even though he was living off campus at the time. We watched Plan 9 From Outer Space, for which I don’t think a single person stayed awake, and played our inaugural game of Milles Bournes – the game that would launch a rap song and dozen inside jokes.
I met Drew right before Freshman Convocation. He was pacing about in front of Beaumont, and I thought he looked nervous, so I went over to talk to him. As I later learned, he wasn’t nervous, he just always paced.I met Brad at breakfast one morning before class, with Katherine.I met Joy on a couch in the lobby of her dorm after being introduced through our freshman R.A.’s, who were helping us find roommates for sophomore year.I met Amy and Derek senior year when they came by our house on Pershing to visit my roommates.
But these memories aren’t limited to college. I can still remember meeting Sarah on the first day of kindergarten. She was standing outside of Braeside Elementary School with her grandmother, and I was standing behind my mom’s legs being bashful. In middle school, I started up a random conversation with the girl who had a locker next to mine in gym class, and even though she thought I was crazy at the time, Lisa later became my best friend.
There are, of course, people for whom I don’t have a discrete memory, but that doesn’t mean that they mean any less to me as friends.I don’t remember a time in college when I didn’t know Katie, although we didn’t become close until we lived together senior year. I don’t remember meeting Katherine D., but I think it probably had something to do with our pre-freshmen programs at Wash U. I don’t remember a time when Taryn wasn’t in my life, although logically I know that I didn’t meet her until I started school at Edgewood, and I don’t remember meeting Audrey for the first time, even though it must have been around the time I met Sarah. I do remember hearing about a new girl starting at Braeside, and being excited to meet her, but I don’t actually remember meeting Caitlin for the first time.
It never ceases to amaze me how my mind works. What is it about certain events or certain people that cause my brain to say, "You should remember this."? Despite my miserable forays into cognitive psychology in college, I'm no closer to understanding my own mental processes. One thing I can say for sure: I'm glad to have had all these people come into my life at one point or another. Each one has shaped me in ways that I will probably never fully realize.