|The row of houses I once lived in|
Ofttimes, when we move from one phase of our lives into another, we do so without a backward glance and with nary a thought to what we're leaving behind. For example, when I passed through the gate of my primary school for the final time, the fact that it was part of my life that was seemingly gone forever didn't, as far as I recall, perturb me in the slightest. Soon, the classrooms and corridors of my secondary school became the familiar routine of my daily life, and I'm surprised, looking back today, at just how quickly and easily I adapted to the change without even realizing it.
It wasn't until I revisited my old primary a few years later, after having left secondary and joined the working classes, that it dawned on me that, in some mysterious, mystical, magical way, I was still connected to this aspect of my past and, in truth, had never really parted from it. You see, not thinking about a thing is not the same as forgetting it. The memory yet dwells in our sub-conscious; what we forget is the act of remembering - until, that is, something suddenly triggers the memory and causes it to erupt in our minds like an exploding firework.
I remember one day a few years back, when I suddenly caught a whiff of disinfectant and was instantly transported back to the toilets of my old primary school, where I often used to retire to during lessons for a bit of peace and quiet in the cool of the tiled environs, with the sound of gently-gurgling water emanating from the cubicle cisterns and porcelain urinals. I felt such a soothing sense of tranquility there, and it was my very own 'fortress of solitude' for five minutes at a time whenever the confines of the classroom became too claustrophobic for me. (I assume my teacher simply thought I had a weak bladder.)
I've previously mentioned how I felt when I revisited a former home for the first time since I'd moved 16 years before (which, at the time, was more than half my life away), and it was practically the same as when I'd left. As I said in this post, it was as if the intervening years and two houses I'd lived in since were only a dream, and I still felt right at home there. I'm sure we've all had the experience of meeting someone we haven't seen or thought of in years and it's just as if we saw them only a short while before. That's how I felt on that particular day.
|My former back garden - ah, happy memories|
Well, I could labour the point I suppose, with example after example, but I'm sure you're all smart enough to catch my drift. Things we may think we've left behind (whether or not, at the time, we were even aware of it) come with us without us realizing it. They reside in the caverns of memory, reluctant to let go of us despite our seeming indifference to them. Whether it be garden gates, bedroom carpets, once favourite toys, favoured friends or whatever, they follow us throughout our lives, just waiting for an opportune moment to renew the acquaintance.
Long may it ever be so.