I was in a gasoline explosion in March of 1990. More than just burned, I was ignited and was basically a human torch. It was an interesting experience, not a good experience, but it was, and still is, interesting (to me anyway) - how I got there, all that happened, my perceptions, and how the doctors fixed me up. There are three or more possible stories here: One, just what happened after being burned, two, what happened around the explosion and what followed, and the third, long story of what happened to me before the explosion that led to circumstances that ultimately saved my life. Yeah, that third "story" makes religious people say God had a hand in it and He has something planned for me. But right now there is a fourth story that involves my memory. I will start with this one.
After most of the healing was well underway and mostly done, and my wife and I were still together, she and I were shopping at Macy's. I spotted an unusually gorgeous young lady, you know, the kind you just have to look at. I was looking. She caught me staring at her. I averted my gaze and tried to look like I was just looking around, but she did catch me and came straight over to us. I was embarrassed, but she came right up and said, "Dave, how are you?" I had never seen her before in my life, but did not want to say anything like that. With normal "pleasantries" underway, I apologized and said I could not remember her name. She told me and I introduced her more or less formally to my wife. After the normal "How you doing?", "Good to see you", "Happy to meet you", and all that stuff, we parted and went about shopping.
Now I tell my wife that I can not remember ever even seeing her before (imagine a beautiful woman coming up to you and you telling your wife you have never seen her before - could make a good sit-com). I could have sworn on a stack of Bibles that I had never seen her before. Nobody could forget someone that beautiful. It would be like spending time with Angelina Jolie in her prime and totally forgetting it. It just could not happen. OK, my wife did not beat me over the head or anything, but there was some tension there, maybe just me, but I felt that it was awkward. When we got home, I (actually we) started looking through photos I had taken (I am assuming here that you know I was a professional photographer before the explosion), and low and behold, here were pictures of that gorgeous creature. I had photographed her.
I can not remember, to this day, even with the photos right in front of me, anything about her, or photographing her. I can only say that this sort of freaked me out. I called my burn doctor and told him that I had to come in and see him. My burn doctor, Dr. Pinada, was a terrific person (hey! he did save my life you know) and when I called the office and wanted to speak with him, the staff always put me through right away, and he said to come right in - now. So I did. I told him the story about not being able to remember this remarkably beautiful woman and it was really freaking me out. Dr. Pinada told me that it was normal for someone who has gone through a really traumatic thing, like my gasoline explosion, to have, what he called, memory holes. He also said some of my memories may be lost forever, but some would come back and other things that generally put my mind at ease.
So I have "memory holes". I have gone through my Orange Coast College year book for 1959 a number of times and read all the signatures and things people wrote in there and can not remember, well, virtually any of them. I have been in touch (thanks to the Internet and also Facebook) with people that even lived right next to me at 1560 E. Ocean Blvd. on the Balboa Peninsula and I can not remember them. Really. Totally blank. I do remember four people, one died while I was living there (Frank Remley) and I knew that, and one I have not been able to locate (Mike Denlinger), but the other two, one I dated (yeah, I'm straight, a she, not a he) and one I did a lot of things with (we sailed together, water-skied together, fixed cars together, etc.) but I can not remember their names. All the others? Gone. I hope I have not insulted people I knew, because I have absolutely no memory of them and to be truthful, I tell them that. I am now in touch (Facebook) with people from my last two years of high school (and OCC) and can not remember them either, including even the person that taught me how to dive for the dive team (and we dove together for two years). It is terribly awkward, maybe insulting to them, but extremely frustrating to me.
I was going to join a support group for procrastinators, but haven't done it yet.