Where’s My Other Brain?
April 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
“Where’s my other brain?!” I say this with my eyes closed, teeth clenched, remembering the eleven-year-old boy who said this to Jeff years ago when he forgot to bring his camera to class. I have forgotten to do something, again, and so the phrase pops up. It is perfect, the idea that should my familiar brain fail me, there is another, ready to go, if I can just find it. How can I find it? If I were eighteen, or if I were who I am now, but eighteen, I would study the brain. I’d prove the existence of the other brain.
Now, the brain is attacking me from all sides. My mother-in-law is changed, but still her elemental sweet self with Alzheimer’s. Every person I have ever introduced her to is “soo pretty!” Not a bad way to see the world. She remembers the deepest things, but forgets anything recent, like where she is. She tells old stories over and over, but isn’t this what we all do inside our heads? Maybe she has just shed the filter. My old stories talk to me every day. It’s the fact that she doesn’t remember who she was to all of us that makes us sad.
My mom, her own brain impaired, could not believe that my Dad’s brain had changed. About a year and a half after my dad’s stroke, she called me in tears, “I talked to the doctor,” she said, “Your dad has brain damage.” Of course he did. I mean, isn’t that what a stroke means? Hadn’t we known that, like, since the swallow test? She could not imagine my dad without his brain. I find this oddly romantic. She fell in love with his smarts, his ability, as well as his 6 ft. 2, skinny frame. It explains a lot.
I remember flying to my friend Swooze’s wedding outside of San Francisco when I was seven months pregnant with Cole. I read on the internet that my baby’s brain was forming, that everything I did would shape how he thought. This scared me to death. I ate ice cream, went swimming, marveled at the redwoods and the beauty of my friends, their newlywed happiness. I hope he stored all this in the deep recesses of his brain. He turned out smarter than either of his parents.
I have stuffed a lot down into the foxholes of my brain,stored it in my other brain, so even when people don’t recognize me, I recognize myself.