“I’m going to make everything around me beautiful - that will be my life.” — Elsie de Wolfe

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Memories - a time machine to the past

Memory is the scribe of the soul. - Aristotle

There are some memories that are so vivid that they stay indelibly inked in your psyche, time may pass and the every day moments take precedence. . . but once in a while something will happen and you are back in that place, experiencing those moments. You can taste the air, feel the feelings, relive for a few precious moments, who you were then.

It could be a fragment of a song long forgotten, a smell, a creaking door, the way a slanted beam of light hits a mirror and reflects onto a wall, who knows how many keys these time machines have, who can tell just when we will swop this moment for one once lived. . .

Here are some of mine . . .

I am a child and I believe I can fly.
Up on the wall behind my house, I stand, eyes closed, willing that this will be the time, this time it will work. My hand grasps the carved handle of the large umbrella that will help me soar. . . and I jump. Convinced that THIS TIME it almost worked, I could feel the lift, I almost flew.

I climb the wall, eyes closed, belief intact, I try again. . .

It is Summer and it is 1972
It's not long before my 12th birthday it is early evening and my hair is long and falls in waves to below my waist. I can see the blue and cream striped cheesecloth shirt and the wide bell bottom trousers I am wearing as I walk slowly over the park in front of my house to sit on a low wall beside the shops.

I can hear the music coming from the disco at the youth club - Farewell Is A Lonely Sound by Jimmy Ruffin and Hey There Lonely Girl by Eddie Holman.

I can feel the heat in the air and the sense of sadness, solitude and confusion coming from me.

(This memory was triggered by hearing songs from that year recently on the Radio.)

It is dark and I am coming home from a friends house
She walks me up the well lit street to the corner of the park where we say goodbye. It is dark here, just a huge expanse of dark grass in front of me. In the distance I can see the window of my home emanating a warm glow through the closed curtains.

I fix my eyes on that tiny square of light and I start running. Faster and faster I move, hearing nothing but my breath, seeing nothing but the light in the distance. It is as though I am flying, I can't feel my feet touching the ground, just this surreal but powerful feeling of sprinting through darkness like a arrow on the way to its lit target.

There was something in those times when I ran in the darkness that can not easily be put into words, something that felt outside of normal time and space, something extraordinary.

I relive it again every time I remember. . .

There are more of course, all these moments backed up in the hard drive that is our memory. Filed away, some may never be seen again, some are often bought to the surface by the retelling of our shared history with family, with friends. Some leap from their hiding place with a freshness that the years have not dimmed and once again we are in another place. . . another time.

We are remembering.

I just made the image above to go with this post and I think it really sums up how my memories appear, it is though my body is here but I am lost in the images and feelings of another time, another place. . .

How are your memories triggered? Have you got a memory that you could share here in the comments? I would love to hear your thoughts - your stories - your memories . . .

Another recent memory - A Message from Nature can be found in my latest post at Incredible Joy


radioreview said...

Sunlight filtered through a maple tree and a transluscent white curtain when I wake in my bed. Reminds me of nap time as a young child in my crib.

Beautiful post Susannah.

Jennifer said...

I loved reading your memories - especially of running. I have a memory of running in the fog with the other kids going to school, and feeling as if I was an angel.

Susannah said...

Hey radioreview,

It's good to see you here and thanks for sharing your memory. Beautifully described, I could see it!

It triggered a memory in me . . . I am standing holding the bars of my cot, the light through the closed curtains is tinged with blue - I feel frustrated and am crying. I want my mother and father who are asleep in the big bed nearby, to wake up! - I throw my empty bottle and scream!

Thanks for dropping in. x

By the way the new look for your site is really great - I like it! :-)

Susannah said...

Hello Jennifer, the subject was bought to mind after reading one of your posts about memories, then recently all three of these memories sprang to the surface again, so I thought I would write them down.

Running in the fog, I can imagine that would feel like you WERE an angel, it sounds another quite surreal moment like my running in darkness.

Actually it has just bought up two more of my memories

The first - running in the wind, leaning against it as I ran, with my hair lifted into the air and wrapping around me as I turned enjoying the feeling of being buffeted by it.

Second, I used to run along the quiet road behind our home and leap as high as I could while running - I think I was pretending to be a gazelle! lol

Thanks for sharing your memory Jennifer. :-)

Suz said...

When I see white clover flowers in the grass I think of my grandmother. I remember her making a chain out of them and making me a necklace.
Your description of the light in the window and your running to it as if you were an arrow to a target..was awesome!
Put that in a story sometime!
and thanks for being there
I always look for you

Susannah said...

Hi Suz, that's a nice memory!

We used to sit in the sunshine on the thick green grass and make daisy chains to wear, and I remember plaiting long strands of grass or corn too.

It is always good to see you Suz. x

Paul Andrew Russell said...

Hi Susannah,

I enjoyed reading your memories, especially as I was also a child in 1972. The music really was better then. I remember it well.

I have very vivid memories of Walkers ready salted crisps, from the time I got a concussion from falling off my bike (who had a safety helmet in those days lol)

I posted the story on my blog yesterday, which is freaky, considering it's about a memory from the same time period as your stories, and considering I wrote it a couple of years ago and only posted it yesterday. It's from a book I'm writing about my childhood in Derbyshire. Weird eh?

Have a lovely Sunday. :-)


Susannah said...

Hi Paul - it must be a time for memories!

Childhood in Derbyshire! - Not too far away from Northamptonshire where I spent my childhood. :-)

Thanks for visiting.

Barbara Scully said...

Hi Susannah and I agree with Paul, your post is serendipitious about your posting this memory post... esp the first para describing how you can smell, taste and feel the memory. We are doing just this in our writing class at the moment!

But I did enjoy reading yours, particularly the running in the dark... I was there with you!

Susannah said...

Hi Barbara, it must be a time for memories at present, something in the air.

Nice to have you 'running' with me. ;-)

Good to see you.

Anonymous said...

I really like this post. I think about the power of memory all the time. I have a very vivid memory of my 3rd birthday. I had a new red cardigan with ladybug buttons. I had matching red shoes. I felt very grown up and full of joy. I am fairly certain it was the first time I erxperienced the idea of anything being possible.

tamara hellgren said...

My memories are almost always triggered by smells (which I've heard is the sense most closely linked to memory, but I can't remember where I heard that so it might be a lie!)

This spring I visited Spain. I hadn't been there in nine years, but I used to live in Madrid. As soon as I got outside the airport I said to my friend who was picking me up, "It smells like Madrid." And I said the same thing when I came back to New York!

Ann said...

Your memories brought me back to flying in the dark.

For me songs, a gentle breeze as it brushes my cheek or a smell bring back those moments or memories as if they only happened yesterday. And maybe they did.

Susannah said...

Selma - I remember those ladybird buttons! I always wanted some on my clothes. :-)

I love the fact that you felt full of joy and the idea that anything is possible! - wonderful, what a great memory to anchor and get in touch with.

Great to see you here. :-)

Susannah said...

Tamara, I think i've read that too about smells - so it definitely isn't a lie! lol

Yes, smells can really do it can't they, I walked past a lady in the street and she was wearing a perfume that my Mum used to wear when I was a child and in an instant I was back there, seeing images and memories that I had never recalled before.

Thanks for visiting, it's always good to see you. :-)

Susannah said...

Ann - songs like smells are a real memory invoker, in fact when they play a re run of the top ten of certain years on the radio it really is like a time machine.

I love listening to the ones from the late sixties up until about 1978 because it is so good for remembering things - I learn so much about who I was and where I was then, by listening to those usually long forgotten records.

Other years (late seventies and up until about 1986) I avoid because they bring back memories too and it wasn't a very good time in my life and I don't want those memories triggered!

Good to see you Ann. :-)

Ellen said...

Hi Susannah, I've been out of commission for awhile while on vacation and very limited computer time. I'm catching up now. I must say that I found this post most heartwarming. I know it's so interesting how the least little thing can happen and it triggers a beautiful memory from so long ago. Music really does it for me along with scents and various other things. I see a rose and I'm reminded of about 55 years ago when my father and I were looking at a rose, very intently and it started opening up right in front of us. It was a special moment for us and I love it when I'm reminded of it from time to time.

Susannah said...

Hi Ellen, I am glad to see you back, I bet it was nice to get home.

What a beautiful memory! Thanks for sharing it with us. :-)


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