Seven plus or minus two

Never forget

While transferring numbers to my new cell phone, I found myself browsing through the entries on my old one as if I had opened the refrigerator door and expected something delicious and unexpired to shift to the front of one of the shelves. None of the numbers jumped out at me, and I figured I could probably get rid of some of them.

Then I got to thinking about all of the phone numbers I’ve learned in my 30 years, and I realized that my brain is a lot like that old cell phone: it shuts itself off at random times, but more importantly it’s cluttered with phone numbers I don’t need anymore. The first house in New York I remember from my youth. The brown-haired girl on the merry-go-round who wanted no part of me in second grade (or so I thought). The family I lived with in France while on a two-week foreign exchange trip when I was 15. A multitude of campus extensions from my days in college. Two sets of numbers for two sets of grandparents, both long gone.

But what’s even more curious is the numbers I could _never_ recallĀ — ones I once dialed so often that you’d think I’d have committed them to [memory][memory]. The friends whose numbers I repeatedly had to look upĀ — does that say something about how important they were? It shouldn’t, but I can’t call those friends to tell them so.

[memory]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short-term_memory

Article © 2004 by Marshall Norton