Anecdotal Evidence

stylish eyeglasses, round lenses with tortoiseshell frames

I’m adjusting well to the pandemic this last little while, getting in the groove while we look ahead to new vaccinated grooves. I still don’t like that businesses are closing, I hate that people are sick and dying, loneliness makes my soul sad, and the impact on my teenage children, well, is rough. I’m finding the upsides more easily though, working from home and getting to spend tons of time with my daughter.

I do want to talk about a little thing I miss a big amount. Anecdotes. I miss stories, little snippets of everyday life. The other day, I saw two people I’d chatted with at least weekly for years, but hadn’t seen once since covid started. One lives only three blocks away, such is the ungrooviness of all this.

We exchanged Happy New Year, Merry Christmas, Happy Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc. We talked about any big changes for our families over the past year. It felt great to catch up, of course. What we didn’t share were all the little dramas, fun ones or scary ones, that still happen despite the smallness of our worlds. I miss all the chit chat that doesn’t happen over zoom.

I broke my glasses. They were my first-ever pair so I don’t have old ones to fall back on (haha, I fell front on these, that was the problem). I got in to see the optometrist quickly and new glasses are on their way. It’s caused huge changes in my daily life because my kinda-stuck-together frames are painful to wear and yet necessary for everything I do on the computer, which is everything. The thing is, by next week I’ll have new ones and by the week after that, I’ll forget all about it. When I bump into someone a year from now, I’m hardly going to demonstrate how I smushed the frames with a shovelful of snow jamming into my coat pocket. I won’t recount the evening I screamed in frustration (sorry Julia) as I tried to put them back together – without being able to see – in a way that wouldn’t give me a pounding headache. I’ll likely neglect to mention the impossibility of choosing new frames while wearing a mask.

What happened to you this week that you wish you could be chatting about? I miss hearing about my colleague’s dogs’ antics. I hope their health issues are stable. I want the scoop on people’s dating adventures and indignance at parking lot drama. I’m sure my neighbour’s granddaughter has done a million cute things I don’t know about.

I think this is one of the reasons that time feels so wonky these days. There was a rhythm to our lives. Acknowledging someone’s string of bad luck or saying ‘things happen in threes’ after their second happy coincidence – those were markers, keeping the beat. Our collective pulse has become irregular.

red glasses with electrical tape, glue, and clear tape holding them together
Yes, this was a bad repair job. No, I couldn’t see how bad it was.

When she stopped laughing at the tape on my glasses, a friend asked, “When did you break them?” And I didn’t know the answer. I still don’t as I type this. It was quite recent. I saw the optometrist on a Wednesday. Today’s Saturday and it wasn’t this week, so … sigh. There was no one here to tell at the time. I don’t know exactly when I broke my toe last fall, but I do know when I dyed my daughter’s hair because we timed how long the colour lasted (waaaaaaay longer than the box said). I don’t know when I took my cat to the vet or had the, um, incident when I was stuck at the liquor store in my pajamas in the middle of the day with my car not starting. There was snow on the ground, my not-in-boots feet remember that. What about last summer? What happened then?

I find my memory less reliable as I get older (who doesn’t?) but instead of struggling to pull up a few details about an occasional event or two, this past year all I see is a faded collage of blurry pictures in my head. From a distance. With broken glasses. Telling anecdotes made the pictures clearer.

I searched (briefly, it is the weekend after all) to find research on how telling stories helps us remember events, but all I found was evidence – heaps thereof – that we remember information better when it’s told to us in a story rather than in dry, factual lists. I knew that. I can remember lots of stories that prove the point 🙂 Storytelling helps the teller remember too, though.

If I didn’t tell anyone about the funny thing that happened on my morning walk, did it even happen?

I guess the answer’s yes, but will I even remember it? Nope.

I hope you’re all well, and if you don’t have anyone to share your little daily stories with, I’d love to hear them.

3 thoughts on “Anecdotal Evidence

  1. Hi Karen, here in the UK we’re now allowed to meet up with people outside (as of Monday this week). This coincided with a few days of unseasonably warm weather so yesterday evening we went to our very good friends’ house and sat in their garden. It was so wonderful to see them in person (not just on Zoom!) and chat about everything and nothing. Not sure I had any interesting stories (well, none as intriguing as your liquor store one…) but it was just bliss to catch up with good friends after all this time.

    1. What great news, Julie! I’ve started walking (masked) with a couple of friends and I get emotional at the simple joy of chatting about nothing in particular 🙂 Enjoy your weather and outdoor visits!

      1. The weather has now changed dramatically and snow is forecast for Monday – lol 🙄. How great to chat and walk with chums – enjoy!

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