Things We Remember

I was struck this morning by the way the human mind (or at least mine) remembers things. There are things I struggle to memorize, to cram into my brain. Then there are pieces of useful information that just lodge there. Some examples:

It took me a great deal of memorization to stuff the second person feminine plural imperfect endings in Hebrew into my brain (they are not usually used and are basically an archaism). However, ask me where the $4, #6, #8, #10, #12, #14, #15, #17,  #19, #20,  # 70, #75, #77 bus routes in Portland run, and I can outline them pretty well.

What is the schema of Oregon license plate numbers? That I know. What is Eva’s Social Security number? Not a clue.

There are texts I can quote at length, despite not having read them in years. There are things I read last night that I can’t even remember the main idea from.

How does memory work? Why does it retain certain things and not others? And why does it seem to retain less and less as I get older?