By Ryan Rogers
When he forgot the names of my cousins, I forgot them too.
That’s kind of how this mess started—with outlying information like the names of my cousins. But every day it becomes more and more personal. Memories slip away from him and I lose them here in the real world. It’s a real pain in the dick, to say the least.
Most of the time I’ll be driving to work and POOF! I won’t know what the inside of my grandma’s house looks like. Or I’ll be ordering Chinese from Dynasty and BLAM! I can’t recall any of the names of my fraternity brothers—not that they mattered that much anyway.
It works with real shit too, like my body. I’m definitely not the piece of ass I was when we broke up. Mostly because I’m missing a piece of my ass. I’m also missing certain angles of my face, the cleft in my chin, and what I look like when I’m sleeping.
Things get tricky when he’s uncertain about something. The color of my hair has changed about a million times. It’s still red, but it’s been just about every shade of red. And when he’s hazy about a particular detail, I get hazy. When I cry, my face looks like someone smudged it with their thumb. This doesn’t bother me too much because I’d rather no one see my face when I cry, which happens more and more often these days.
It’s not all bad, though. He forgot about some of my shittier qualities, so those have been eradicated. He forgot that I eat with my mouth open, so now I eat with some civility. He doesn’t remember that I piss in the shower, so now I use a toilet like a human. He doesn’t remember what religion I am, so now I’m free to explore whatever I want. I’m thinking Presbyterianism, but that will probably change.
Obviously, I get to keep everything I didn’t share with him. I’ve got a few summer camp memories left. I remember doing ecstasy alone in the bathroom at my friend Ani’s wedding. And I know the name of every guy I fucked behind his back. Part of me wishes I’d told him about that, even though I know he’d never forget. Which means I'd never forget.
He doesn’t remember where I went to grammar school, so that chunk of my life is pretty much gone.
He forgot my birthday, so I make one up every year.
I’m friends with more than two thousand people on Facebook and don’t know who most of them are anymore.
But I’ve still got my laugh.
I still know my way home.
And I still have my name.
I have a very limited recollection of my life, and I’m missing a few limbs here and there. But I remember slow-dancing in his living room to a Tracy Chapman song, and I’m hopeful he’ll let me keep that one.
My skin doesn’t smell like anything anymore, except on certain mornings when I’m alone in my bed. I’ll catch a whiff of my own flesh and I’ll bury my nose into the bend of my arm. This usually doesn’t last long, but I savor every second and every inhale because it let’s me know he’s awake too.
And he’s thinking of me.
Ryan Rogers is an award-winning author and copywriter with fiction and nonfiction published in Hello Mr., Gertrude Literary Journal, Bird's Thumb, HelloGiggles.com, and more. Essays by Ryan can be found at ExboyfriendMaterial.com.