by Cheryl Silver
I have a confession to make.
I don’t know your name.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to learn it. I have. I’m the one who said, “Oh, remind me of your name” the first four times we met. But for some reason I cannot keep your name in my often overwhelmed brain, and I feel weird asking you to repeat it yet again. Four times is barely acceptable. By the fifth time, I’m worried you’re going to wonder what’s wrong with me.
As you know, I’m new to town. I’m meeting a lot of people all at once. And apparently I’m having some trouble remembering your name.
Sure, I know all about you. We’ve had some really great conversations. I know how you feel about your husband traveling too much. I know about the water damage in your basement. I know that you prefer low-rise panties over hipsters – always from Victoria’s Secret. I know what you bought your mother for her 85th birthday.
But I just have no idea what your mother named you.
I have some guesses. I think you might respond to Chris, or maybe Chrissy. Or was that Christie? Hmmm. I could try Liz, or Elizabeth or Beth, but I remember you telling me you hated one of those versions of your name. Which one was it? Betsy, maybe?
I better just nod and smile.
This seems to be a new problem for me. In the past I’ve had no trouble distinguishing between my good friends Jennie, Jenni and Jennifer. I used to exercise weekly with two different women named Michelle along with my other friend, Michele. I spent one afternoon painting pottery with Aimee and Amy. I used to know everyone’s name, mastering each tricky spelling and pronunciation.
I’m guessing that juggling my three kids’ schedules at their three new schools, my new part-time job, and an entirely new community has pushed my memory to its very limits.
Since moving to Champaign-Urbana over three months ago I’ve felt nothing but welcomed, and I’m forming some nice friendships. I enjoy seeing you on the school playground, at our kids’ dance classes, at the middle school band concert… uh, what was your name again?
I’ve Googled my problem and it seems I’m not alone. I should be implementing specific memory techniques, like repeating your name at least three times during our first conversation and visualizing it written in marker on your forehead. But, honestly, I’m just so excited that you also have a preschool-aged daughter and can recommend a good dentist in the area that I skip right over the marker routine and start mentally planning a girls’ night out with you and your friend Anne … or Anna? … Oh… pronounced “Ahna”? Sorry. I knew that.
I pledge to work on my name recall abilities during the next several months. And if you see me and remember my name, please feel free to remind me of yours. I’ll be embarrassed but forever grateful.
Cheryl Silver and her husband, Aaron Johnson, moved their family to Urbana in August 2012. Silver is a mother of three, runner, theater enthusiast & performer, journalist, volunteer for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the video producer/owner of Silver Screen Productions – www.keepthegoodstuff.com.