Most of the time my husband, Mike, and I sound as if we're talking in some kind of code:
"Did you call what's-his-name about the thing next week?"
"Huh? No, I forgot."
"When is it?"
"I can't remember. Where's the information about it?"
"I don't know."
"I didn't really want to go anyway."
"Yeah, me neither."
If you've passed your 45th birthday, chances are you recognize our "code." We're not trying to confuse each other or keep potential eavesdroppers at bay. We just can't remember anything any more.
Not too long ago, Mike and I had a lengthy conversation about a movie we'd seen. Never once did either of us use a proper noun: not the title of the movie or the name of a single actor or character in the film. Fortunately, no one else was around for that scintillating discussion.
Recently, I stopped by Harris Teeter on my way home from work to pick up a couple of things. I had no list because, honestly, who needs a list with just two items on it? Apparently I do because I drove home with five items, only one of which would have been written on that two-item list.
One day recently as we walked through our back door and into the garage, Mike turned around. "Go on to the car; I'll be right there," he said. I climbed into the car and waited. And waited. Finally, Mike opened the driver's door. "I can't find my sunglasses. Have you seen them anywhere?" he asked. I looked up and replied, "Yes. They are around your neck."
Please note that I didn't sigh or even smirk. After all, I was the one who the day before had put a load of laundry into the washer, poured in the detergent, closed the lid, and walked away. That's right. I walked away without pushing a single button or spinning a single dial.
Thankfully, I no longer worry that my husband and I are alone in our fogginess. I have too much anecdotal evidence to the contrary.
On my birthday this year I received a private Facebook message from my friend Kelly confessing she had no idea if she'd written "Happy Birthday" on my wall once, twice or not at all. Kelly was embarrassed; I was delighted.
Recently, a sales clerk confessed that thanks to Pinterest, she no longer has to worry about accidentally wearing the same outfit twice in one week. She turns all of her hangers around backward. Once she wears a garment, its hanger goes back in the closet facing forward. Genius.
My friend Cindy shared with me the trick she uses when takes her medications, vitamins and supplements each morning. She lines up all of the containers, and when she finishes with a bottle, she turns it upside down. That way she makes sure she takes each pill once but none twice. I'm wondering if that process will work with recipe ingredients.
As a child, I used to think my mother was nuts when she would call the roll - Julie-Bill-Lachlan-Muffin - and we were supposed to know which child or pet she wanted. No longer. I have one child and one dog and still manage to trip up over their names on a regular basis.
If, on the other hand, anyone needs a spur of the moment recitation of Antony's oration at Caesar's funeral, I'm ready now.
My same-age friends and I console ourselves by saying our brains are on overload, and we're just responsible for too much information to possibly remember it all. And that may well be true. According to experts, many people our age are trying to balance too many things: spouses, parents, children, career, finances, pets, households, church and civic responsibilities, etc.
One thing is for certain: In these I'm-pretending-to-be-middle-aged-but-who-really-lives-to-be-108 times, a sense of humor is essential. Of course, the experts tell us that eating well, exercising regularly, playing brain games and decreasing stress will improve our memories. Even if those things don't help, there is an upside.
Those of us of a certain age will never run out of things to say to each other because we'll just keep having the same conversations over and over again.
Julie Stephenson is a teacher and writer who lives in Mount Pleasant with her husband, son and Boykin spaniel.