Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Memory Loss

I've mentioned this a couple of times, but my memory is pretty bad. And it got a lot worse this past fall with all the stress I had (I know, I know, I'll stop mentioning it!).
So, when netflix recommended a documentary to me about a guy that loses his memory, I totally jumped at it.
Here's the story: a man *wakes up* or *comes to* or whatever, on a subway in NYC. He has no identification and doesn't know who he is, where he's going, or where he came from. He has a backpack with a few items: a language/travel book, some medicine of some sort (later found out to be dog medicine) and two sets of keys. Also: he has a British accent.

So he gets off the subway and wanders around, trying to jog his memory, until he finds a police station. He goes in. The police ask, "Can we help you?" and he says:
Yes, I don't know who I am.
Can you imagine?
I can't. I have actually imagined memory-loss scenarios for myself (let's chalk it up to my creative spark), but it never was like what he describes. The police find a slip of paper with a phone number on it in his book, but when they call the number and describe the Unknown White Male, the person on the phone doesn't know who he is. He ends up in a hospital, in the psychiatric ward, where he's told he will not be released until someone identifies him. His only hope is that phone number. So he calls and calls and calls until someone answers again. By this time, he's crying as he tells the woman on the other end of the phone that he doesn't know who he is and he needs her to help him. 
She thinks he sounds familiar.
But she can't get to the hospital, so she calls her daughter, who tells her that the man is scamming her.
Finally, things fall into place. The daughter calls the hospital, and recognizes the voice as soon as the man gets on the phone.
                        "Doug?" she says.
                                          "I don't know!" the man says.
       "You are. You're Doug," she tells him.
In the documentary, the man completely falls apart when he reiterates the conversation. He says the realization that he is someone, that he belongs, is overwhelming.
Anyway, that's just the beginning. See Unknown White Male to hear the rest of the story, like how he met his family for the first time, or what he felt like returning "home". Everything is documented. Crazy.

What are other ways in which we lose ourselves? Times when we feel alone, or even like we're not someone? It's a scary thought.

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