“It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.”

Today is dark and damp with the humidity at 80˚. It rained for all of three minutes, stopped for a long while then rained again for a few minutes. I think that will be the weather for the day, on and off rain. I have no urge to do anything constructive except take my shower which I suppose could be construed as constructive.

Tonight my friends and I are going out to dinner, a celebratory dinner for my friend’s birthday. I’m looking forward to the festivities.

My memory drawers are so filled I can’t even close some of them. Momentous events and whole experiences fill most drawers, but my memory drawers also save picture memories, single snapshots, and I sometimes wonder why. I remember my fourth grade lunch box was red plaid. I don’t remember any other lunch boxes. I have no memories of my school shoes, but I remember my sneakers, my play shoes. My favorite pair of dungarees had a flannel lining. The cuff had to be rolled once as the pants were a bit long. I was young and the waist of those pants was elastic, no snaps, no buttons. I remember one part of our walk to church early Christmas morning. It was still dark. I remember walking on the sidewalk and across the railroad tracks but that’s all. Arriving at church and the walk home are lost somewhere way back in one of those drawers. I can close my eyes perfectly see the cloakroom outside my first grade classroom. I remember the thick, painted walls in the rectory cellar where I spent my third grade. From high school, I remember where my freshman locker was, and I remember a before school practice for one of the Christmas pageants. I was sitting in the middle of about the third row. Once I got detention for talking on the stairs, one step away from the cafeteria where I was allowed to talk. I know exactly where that happened. I can even see the nun turn and tell me I had detention, but I don’t remember who the nun was.

In Philadelphia, at Peace Corps staging, we were together for about 5 days before leaving for Ghana. I remember standing in line for check-in. I remember sitting on the rug on the top floor with my back to the wall and reading The Naked Ape. Why I was on the top floor and not in my room escapes me. I don’t remember leaving for Ghana. I do remember after a stop for fuel in Madrid my seat belt got stuck and I couldn’t get it unstuck so I didn’t wear it for take-off from Madrid or for landing in Ghana.

Memories are so many things. Some makes us nostalgic, other makes us sad, some fill us with wonder. I always think the best ones keep those we love close to us whether they are here or not.

Explore posts in the same categories: Musings

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

10 Comments on ““It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    The day started out rather cold and with thick fog and the sun had to struggle quite a lot until it finally won and after that it stayed all day long. It almost felt like summer for a while. Now it’s getting chilly again and it looks like the night will be able to show me some stars.

    I have mostly snapshot memories often triggered by a scent or a sound. Some food usually bring out memories of my grandmother standing by the stove and I also remember the plates filled with food and lots of ketchup 🙂 I’ve never really liked ketchup so why does that pop up 🙂

    I remember the view over Lisbon when I was driving there one night, it was just about to get dark and all the lights shone like little stars, it was so beautiful.

    I remember walking around in quartier latin in Paris with my brother but can’t remember that there were any people around, there must have been since it was around noon when we walked there.

    I remember walking in to Sacre Coeur but not how it looked in there and I remem,ber walking up by the big dome but not the view 🙂 Memories works in mysterious ways sometimes 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      It is still damp but not as chilly even though the sun has gone. I’ve spent the day watching Doctor Who, then the Patriots’ football game and now back to Doctor Who. I’m still not sure I like this doctor.

      Scent also brings back many memories for me. Wood burning is always Ghana as everyone cooked over a wood fire.

      I too have scenes from all over the place. I remember looking through the windows at Machu Picchu. I remember train rides and boat rides and the autobus in Ecuador and the driver blowing his horn to warn animals and people to get off the track. Some didn’t.

      I have the best memory of walking through Accra at night. In my time many places were closed for the evening, there were few vehicles still on the roads, and I would walk by men sitting in circles around a fire. I remember the murmur of their voices.

      Enjoy the evening!

  2. flyboybob Says:

    Like you I have selective memories. Somethings are complete and seem to be just like they happened yesterday and others I can only remember a snip it of the event or thing. The experts on memory tell us that every time we recall an event from the past we change it slightly in light of our more recent experiences and the changed version then becomes our memory. If so, then shared memories are different for each person who was present at the time we made the memory. Strange how the mind obviously remembers important events in our lives but also stores little things that at the time may have seemed meaningless.

    Another warm and sunny day again. Here we don’t get into really nice temperatures until October.

    • katry Says:

      The little things sometimes jump out of my memory and surprise me. They are events or people I hadn’t thought of in ages. I delight in those memories.

      Cloudy here most of the day. The temperature will go down to the low 50’s tonight. I’m happy for such great sleeping weather.

  3. Hedley Says:

    The Naked Ape like Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape ?

    Long before his most famous of publications Desmond Morris was very much part of our childhood hosting a show on the ITV during children’s hour called Zoo Time. TV viewing was very limited on the two stations and there was an overwhelming desire to educate and not entertain children.

    Desmond did not give us Ollie Beak or Fred Barker or Basil Brush but he did give children of the 50s (like wot I am), many happy memories.

    • katry Says:

      Yes, My Dear Hedley, it was the Desmond Morris book. That is the only way I know him, through that book. It sounds as if I missed out on Zoo Time.

      TV always seemed entertaining to me when I was young, but maybe it was the wonder of the TV which hid the educational part.

  4. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Yes, some memories stay as pictures with not much else around them. The big green thermos with the dented top and the spigot that we used for Kool-Aid is one that comes to mind. Every now and then I get a mental picture of the bridal veil bushes that used to be in the yard. I don’t know why because I never thought they were all that special when they were still there. 🙂
    I also have smell memories. Sometimes they get triggered by remembering something else entirely unrelated. I remember the smell of the garage attic where I used to sleep out on summer nights. It smelled of warm wood, dust and abandoned paper wasp nests. It was a pleasant and comfortable smell and sometimes it comes back to me when I’m remembering something else that was also pleasant and comfortable.

    I was probably reading The Naked Ape about the same time only I was sitting at an old style keypunch machine. 🙂

    Today started out cloudy but the sun won out and shone the rest of the day. It was breezy and cool. Rain would have been welcomed, though.

    Enjoy the evening.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      What I think is those pictures tell huge stories. When you see that thermos in your mind’s eye, some memories must flood back. The bridal veil is continuity, your memories keeping the house alive in the past into the present.

      I love your description of the attic smells and your memories of them.

      The Naked Ape now seems like a strange book for me to bring. When I was there, I read fantasy, mysteries and science fiction.

      It is really cool right now. I just shut all the windows. Fall is coming!

      Have a great day tomorrow!

  5. Jay Bird Says:

    We had our high school 50th reunion this weekend. Not recalling any fond memories of those four years, I was hesitant, but went to two events. It was fun! I had (literally) not seen anyone in 50 years! My God, we (they?) are all so old!! Out of 488 graduates, we turned out 200 for a Friday happy hour (70 confirmed dead). No one remembered me, but everybody was so friendly. I was pleasantly surprised.

    • katry Says:

      Mine is the long weekend in October. There is a cocktail party on Friday, a tour of the school (which is almost unrecognizable with all the additions) on Saturday and dinner that night.

      I see lots of my classmates around the cape and even taught with three of them at the high school. They sent a list of those who had died and I was amazed at the high number.

      I have gone to all but the 5th (I was in Ghana), and I have always had a good time. The one thing here is I can’t believe it is the 50th!

Comments are closed.