There are routines in me that have become subconscious. One of them is bringing my computer home from work. I fear that I will someday leave my computer on the ferry or on the bus. I have forgotten other things. Once, I left my contribution to the office white elephant Christmas party gift exchange hanging on a hook in the men’s room.
And yet, when I am going to or leaving the ferry, I never think about this fear. In fact, I don’t think much about my computer at all. I will often use it on the ferry and pack it up when it’s time to leave. The actions of strapping it around my shoulder, putting it in my bike pannier or car trunk, taking it out and bringing it into the house are not anything I remember with clarity the next day.
I drove to the ferry yesterday. I’ve been doing that more and more since Finn was born. Time is precious in the morning. I hurried home from the ferry yesterday because the new dog sitter was meeting us at the house to get some operating instructions. When I went to bed last night, I thought that I left my computer in the trunk of my car. When I went to retrieve it this morning, it wasn’t there.
I started a low-boiling panic. I looked through the car, then the living room and office. I could visualize it hanging on that hook in the ferry bathroom. I started going through a checklist of all the things I would have to do to try to track it down in the last day before my vacation, right before the release of a project I’ve been working on for the last seven months.
Then I found it in the bedroom.
I must have brought it in yesterday, as is my habit, and set it down before I picked up Finn in the nursery. It all happened automatically, in the background of my conscious thought.
It happened again yesterday. I was cleaning out this special nursing bottle that Taya uses. We have this cord that she uses to suspend it from her neck and, in order to not lose this while I was cleaning the bottle in a public restroom, I put it around my neck. Later, I clipped the clean bottle to the cord — I distinctly remembered doing that. When she was looking for the cord at 3 a.m. this morning, though, I had no memory of taking it off. I looked around, half asleep, for five minutes before I remembered that I took it off and put it with some of his other stuff when we were cleaning up to leave.
The difference is this: securing the cord was important (so I remembered it); placing it with his other stuff that would be coming with us was not important (so I didn’t).
Why does that happen? Is it a good thing? Being a new parent means that I have to focus on so many little details. I can’t retain them all.