It was May of 1992. I was driving across the country in a tiny faded yellow early 80s model Honda Civic. We stopped in Chicago. While Los Angeles rioted over Rodney King and other cities reacted in sympathy, Chicago remained calm, cool, and good humored. I remember many things about that trip: meeting my first Pynchon fanatic, seeing the White Sox, drinking Old Granddad from a bottle in Nashville, teaching the Bostonian in the group about scale via a partial descent into the Grand Canyon, and the utter shock we felt upon arriving in San Luis Obispo – How could there be so much blond hair? So much tan skin? Why wasn’t anyone wearing black? Did anyone there read the New York Times? One year in New York city and we were becoming Seinfeld characters.
I also have a distinct memory of seeing the Second City comedy troupe one night in Chicago with my friend Gillian.
But wait… was that the summer of 92 or the fall of 94? Was I driving with two guys or one woman? Did we stay with the Pynchon maniac or the family who collected Oosik (a.k.a. Walrus penis bones)? Was I with Gillian?
I remember laughing at some guy dressed like Fabio on the Second City stage. He was the one guy that never failed to get a laugh that night. I remember remembering at some point that his name was Steve Carell. Yes, that Steve Carell.
Why is this all so jumbled? Do I remember Steve Carell or do I simply remember remembering him or worse do I only think I remember him because I remember thinking that I remembered him?
I have always thought of this type of internal confusion not as memory lost or jumbled, but as a faulty retrieval mechanism. My files have warped and stuck together like the labels peeling off the folders of a carefully organized filing system, but the information in the files would still be readable if I could just figure out which file is which. Turns out there’s some neuroscience that vindicates my view. I give you Karl Pribam.