Going through my old day planners so I can recycle and otherwise throw out unneeded paper has meant that I'm getting reminded of when I did stuff. And memory? You're slippery.
Plenty of times when I lived in Hermiston, Oregon, 190 miles east of Portland, I'd go into Portland. I had family and things I wanted to do there. (This is still true in 2011, but both are easier to reach because I'm here.) Turns out one relatively early such trip -- just to do stuff, not going back for a holiday or a major event -- was in April 1998. My big goal, which I accomplished, was seeing Brazil in a movie theater for the first time. It wasn't a big screen, it was the Clinton Street Theater, not too far from where I live now. (It's also a theater I now generally avoid, as I have issues with the place, issues I didn't have in April 1998 so I won't detail them here.)
That may have been my first time in one of Portland's smaller movie theaters: I didn't go to the Bagdad until March 2000 (when I nearly screwed myself out of ever being able to go back to the Bagdad, and boy am I glad I got myself unscrewed, but again, digression); I don't think the Laurelhurst was open at the time (it became a theater-pub in, if I read this correctly, 1999 or 2000); and I didn't first go to Cinema 21 until the first weekend of 1999, when I saw Gods and Monsters there. I liked that a movie theater could be on a human scale, in a neighborhood, within sight of homes. Had I lived in the Thirties, Forties, Fifties, or Sixties, this wouldn't have been surprising, but I'm a product of my time. And I probably would've been a lousy fit in those eras, too.
But here's the thing. I knew I'd gone from Hermiston to Portland one time to see Brazil, but I'd gotten to thinking that I'd done that in early 2000, not spring '98. My memory that I'd seen the film in 2000 was very clear. It was also wrong. I have notes to tell me. And now I have this blog entry to remind me.
There's a quote Harlan Ellison likes, from Olin Miller: "Of all liars, the smoothest and most convincing is memory." (Miller supposedly also said "Writing is the single hardest way to make a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.") I really, really want to be sure my memory keeps up with me. It's a legitimate worry; I'm at some risk for dementia. I've had at least two family members who've had it. All of this writing is a needed way to keep notes. I've been looking back at a lot of such things lately: I dug out my printout of the personal journal I was keeping on a laptop computer in 1993 and 1994, and I've been dipping into that. It includes stuff I wrote when living through my bout with chicken pox, which I got as a college freshman. Oy. Photos from that time don't exist, thank goodness, but some of my thoughts do. So my 18-years-older self (whoa) can double-check and say "Oh, so that happened then..."
P.S. Guess what? I've thought about this before. (You'll like that link. A Queen video's in it.)