Article - Spring 2020

Why the Egg Matters

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A meditation on remembrance, family, and time

By Laura Bernstein-Machlay | March 2, 2020
Some scientists now postulate that the human egg cherry-picks the precise sperm it wants- that it lures, captures, pulls inside itself the gamete of choice, maintaining its flawless totality. (IStock)
Some scientists now postulate that the human egg cherry-picks the precise sperm it wants- that it lures, captures, pulls inside itself the gamete of choice, maintaining its flawless totality. (IStock)

Lately I’ve noticed my memory glitching more than usual, not that it was stellar to start with. I’m constantly forgetting grocery items—the vital eggs, say, for my daughter Celia’s birthday brownies. Or I mislay the phone 1.5 seconds after I put it down, or wander into the basement for clean jeans for myself and my husband, only to emerge a half-hour later with just a flashlight clutched in my fist.

Then there are names, which float away from my awareness like dust motes mere moments after I hear them. Faces, too, have always been tricky, especially when attached to humans who’ve stepped outside their usual context. As when I’m minding my business at the drugstore, and who should appear but a friend of a friend or a newish work colleague. Of course this person approaches me in the Digestive Health aisle, where I’m waffling between the Pepto-Bismol or its generic equivalent, and they’re all, “Well, hi there! I haven’t seen you around in ages!” (Um, around where exactly? ) Or, “Well, hi there! Have you thought more about that thing we discussed? (Er, nope.)

I blame some of these memory malfunctions on my hard-fought, only recently acknowledged ascendance into middle age. That’s when, among other bodily indignities, women’s hormones surge and recede like the tides, and we spend our days shuffling through brain fogs thick as split-pea–soupers.

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