By the Numbers

I sometimes find myself mindlessly reciting numbers in my head. The number is always meaningful in some way, but the reason I remember it at that moment is never clear.

For example, whenever I walk toward the locker room at my gym, I find myself thinking

18 – 27 – 33

This is an old locker combination. It’s probably from at least three locks ago. Yet it comes to mind as readily as my current combination. And I can’t remember any of the other locker combinations I’ve ever had in my life. (It was always easy to remember, because each of the three numbers is 3 away from a multiple of 5. Maybe this doesn’t seem mnemonic to you, but for whatever reason, I could always remember that 18 was 15 + 3, 27 was 30 – 3, and 33 was 30 + 3. Big deal, right?) But this is at least in context, and probably excusable.

Even weirder is when I remember things randomly — such as the home phone number of my childhood best friend. (The same childhood friend who abandoned me a full year after I came out — and a month after he conspicuously did not give me a Chirstmas present — by telling me over the phone, “I don’t think you should come over anymore. I don’t think you should come over ever.” He was never one to mince words.)

I won’t post this phone number, tempting as it may be.

I also remember my first phone number in New York, which is now defunct. (We gave up our land line after having it less than a year.) But I routinely forget my current cell number.

Why do these things come back to us?


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the untallied hours

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