A Decade-long Memory of What Happened Changed in One Extra Second

Yesterday, June 30, 2015, an extra second was added to our clocks. I have no real idea why exactly, but it’s probably similar to why we have leap years.

I’m not sure if it was because of that extra second, but I’ve nothing else to blame it on: I learned something about my past that changed what I had held true for over a decade. Needless to say, if I had written about this same experience yesterday, it wouldn’t have been the same. Mind you, I wouldn’t have had the experience so I wouldn’t have been able to write about it.

It started simply enough. It was just a conversation between two people who used to know each other, and were spending some time catching up after about 13 years. Funnily enough, we chatted over Facebook Messenger, similar to when we used to chat over MSN Messenger, all those years ago.

I will say that I generally do not enjoy chatting via text or messenger for as long as I did last night; I much prefer to just pick up the fucking phone and talk. Between all the swiping I have to do on Tinder, the scrolling I have to do on Instagram, and checking the text messages I don’t reply to, I have little time or wrist strength for hours of messaging. Anyway, I was on my computer so I was typing like Mavis taught me to, and not just with my thumbs. So, really, it was fine.

If you mean something to me, and we haven’t talked in quite a while, I’ll likely send you a quick note to see how things are going or just say, “Hi.” I’m about 50/50 on replying to you if you reply, but I hope that changes soon. (I should send some emails soon.) So, anyway, I sent a quick note to somebody I was thinking about yesterday, and, lo and behold, I received a response.

Did you know that on OS X Yosemite you get notifications about activity on your Facebook account? I don’t ever remember linking my operating system and Facebook, but there you have it.

Anyway, I was sitting at my computer editing photos when I got a notification about a message. I checked it and responded. And then, as if a conversation had started, I received another message. And then, another. And then, another. They kept coming.

Now, I like to be a little formal so I use salutations and paragraphs even when sending messages on “messengers”. Soon, however, the conversation became one of the type where only sentences are exchanged, expectant of a response. You know, like how when you’re text messaging with your friends?

Well, my plans for the evening had just changed.

Anyway, we got to “talking”. We shared stories about what has happened, reminisced a bit on times passed, and discussed what is currently going on in our lives. It was fun, and I didn’t have to tie up a phone line, which is great because my phone rings very rarely.

This is the best drawing I could do of a brain with a lit fuse attached to it.
This is the best drawing I could do of a brain with a lit fuse attached to it.

At one point, I said something about what I thought was a mutual memory, and I was quickly corrected. We each remembered it differently. Oppositely, in fact. I needed that extra second to pause and reread — I have to admit that this is kind of nice about messaging — what we had been talking about.

In that second, a little bit of my life changed. Until then, it was all so clear in my head. I knew what had happened and now I’m not sure who’s right. To be honest, I like the version that isn’t mine better, but I have only a clue of what that looks like.

Of course, a lot has happened in my life, but my memory, failing as it is, was pretty solid on this one; it was one thing I felt certain about. It was a truth of Biblical proportions.

It was a shock to me last night, but I was drinking beer and engaged in a “conversation” so there wasn’t much time for me to grapple with it. If cleaning my apartment is good for anything, it’s a good time for me listen to music and think. I spent a good portion of today thinking about what we talked about last night.

The more I thought about this Copernican shift, the more I got to thinking about what else might be misfiled in my brain. But, how can it be wrong if it’s what I know to be true? I mean, I was there for the creation of those memories, right? The question remains: what else am I remembering incorrectly?

I don’t know. Who do I ask? Should I even ask?

Moreover, can I just start remembering things differently to suit my needs? I mean, memory is malleable. I’ve read about it in peer-reviewed journals. Maybe I’m just remembering the wrong things.

I don’t know. It’s all messed up in my head, now. It’s a good thing that I’ve got a transcript of the conversation.

It might take me years to figure out what all I’ve gotten wrong, and all it took, to shift my perspective on my own past, was one extra second.


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