I don’t know when exactly the fog set in.
I think it crept in gradually. Fog does that.
I learned to drive in a part of the country where the fog can be deadly. It’s a special, soupy fog called “tule fog”. Tule fog happens in our valley because of the density of the humid, cold air in the winter, winds aren’t able to dislodge the fog and the high pressure of the warmer mountain air presses down on the cold air trapped in the valley. We are taught to keep our headlight beams low and maintain a slow, steady speed. Don’t go fast, but don’t go too slow, either. Some of the worst wrecks occur when someone flips out and slows way down or stops. You can get a pileup of 50 cars easily because of one person creating such an obstruction.
So you drive steadily through the fog. You must go on. It takes real nerve. You don’t consider stopping until you can barely see past the hood of your car. You simply have to drive in it. It persists through weeks and months and sometimes doesn’t clear until mid day. You have to get to work. You have to get to school. Life goes on.
I first noticed my fog when I missed an appointment. I never had to write things down, really. I did keep a calendar, but I had made this appointment the day before. I hadn’t written it down.
I was embarrassed and couldn’t explain myself. I had inconvenienced someone else and I felt terrible about it. Mad at myself.
“You have too much on your mind. You’re trying to do too much. You need to cut back…” friends would offer.
But I didn’t. I’m not. I won’t.
I’m not a crazy person. I’m not a ditzy person. I’m conscientious and productive. I remember things. I did.
And then I started forgetting more important things. Things people said to me that mattered. Like “we’re adopting a baby” or “I might have cancer”. And that thing…that very important thing about someone I cared about….didn’t find a fold in my brain to rest. And when someone else told me this same news, it was news to me.
“Oh. She said she told you. That’s the only reason I mentioned it.”
Every time this happens, my stomach drops. It’s humiliating. It shakes my confidence. I realize this is a natural part of aging, but it’s a terrible thing to face when it’s always been a strength. Tons of details. Tons of juggling. Then a ball drops. It happens, I know.
It’s just fog.
I can learn to drive in this fog. I’m not losing my capacity to think and figure and create. I just need to capture these details and string them together. There are techniques. And I have nerve.
I don’t speed up, but I don’t slow down, either.
I write everything down. Conversations, appointments, tasks…I commit all I can to paper. I confess my tendency to my team at work so they can help me. I try to be prepared for my day so I don’t get caught off guard. Everything I used to remember on my own, I commit to paper.
I’ve still got good visibility. I can see well past my hood ornament.
I don’t like to think of pulling over. I don’t have time.
I can drive in the fog.