Saturday, August 15, 2009

time travel

have you ever been transported back in time by a sound, a taste, a fragrance? it's not deja vu, it is a memory triggered by current events. that is what happened to me tonight.

it was girl's night out and my friend and i were having dinner before our movie started. i had ordered a cheeseburger. nothing exotic, just a basic, fast food cheeseburger. we sat down and began to eat. i took my first bite, and immediately was transported back to my childhood.

when i was a child, trips to the doctor or dentist often meant visiting our local medical school/teaching hospital. as a reward my parents would sometimes take my brother and i to a nearby small restaurant after our appointments. it was called the carousel and it specialized in hamburgers and milkshakes. us kids liked it because they cooked the burgers and then we could put anything we wanted on it. heaven for a picky kid like me! the dining area was decorated with clowns and many of the seats were in the shape of carousel animals, hence the name of the restaurant. we always looked forward to going there, and always felt like we had had a treat.

when i bit into my cheeseburger tonight, it tasted EXACTLY like the burgers from the carousel. juicy, charbroiled (different than the flame broiled burgers that some other fast food places serve), and with only the stuff i liked on it. the sensation was unexpected, but the memory it generated was pleasant. for a moment i was 8 years old again, at the carousel, sitting on a giraffe and eating a hamburger while looking at the clowns painted on the walls. just as quickly, i was back in the food court at the mall, seated across from my friend, wondering where the time has gone.

memories make time travel possible -- "when" have you been recently?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

my first memory

i have a terrible memory. (so it makes sense i am writing a blog about documenting and preserving memories, right?!) family and friends often mention experiences and events in which i also participated, and sometimes my recollections are hazy at best. frequently, even after hints and prompting, i have to say, "i'm sorry, i just don't remember." it is sometimes frustrating for me, and amusing for those who take pity on my poor brain.

sometimes when i look at a picture from my childhood, it seems as if i am remembering that particular event. alas, i think it is more that i have seen the picture often enough that it is the photo i am remembering instead of the event. there is one experience, however, that i do remember, and it has no accompanying pictures. it is my first real memory. i was four years old, and my family traveled to northern california on the train to see my grandmother.

i remember my mother sitting with me next to the window, pointing to things outside as the train sped down the tracks. i remember a garden with lots of green and shade at my grandma's house. the highlight of the trip for me was getting to go to school with her. she taught first grade and it made me feel very important to be a four year old in a class full of 6 year olds. i remember being amazed when i discovered that there was a girl in her class who was also named cindy. i don't remember every single thing about that day (hey, i was only four!) but i do recall getting to fingerpaint with the rest of the class. that was fun! my grandma let me bring the picture home and she had it framed for me, and that picture hung in our house until i was in high school.

it wasn't until i was a junior or senior in high school that i told my mother that my grandmother had framed the picture upside down. it was supposed to be a man wearing a hat and walking down the street. my grandmother framed it so it looked like a potted plant. (remember, i was only four!). in spite of the upside down painting, i greatly enjoyed the trip, especially the visit to school.

even as the finger painted man/flowerpot has become a memory, i hold tight to the joy of a four year old little girl who went to school with her grandma and got to feel special for a day. whenever i see an amtrak train speeding down the tracks i feel the awe of a child watching the world pass by as she sits still. this is how my first memory has remained a part of my life to this day.

what is your first memory?

Monday, August 3, 2009

memorable friends

every year (this is the 114th, to be exact), the church denomination i grew up in has their annual campmeeting (also known as family camp). people come from miles around, some traveling 2 hours or more, to attend church services, classes, meals and other activities with others from around our state. the joke at campmeeting is, if you aren't related to someone there, they know someone you are related to. i happen to be related to several people who attend.

it is also a time to see old friends. some of these people have known me for over 40 years, some for only a few months, but it is always a joy when our eyes meet and we make our way toward each other and embrace. the words " it is sooo good to see you!" always make me smile. it is good to be missed! what makes these occasions so enjoyable is the fact that we share memories. memories of childhood exploits, teenage angst, college days, new parenthood, our faith; all of these experiences have been shared with the people we care about, relate to, have a history with. we have made memories together.

our family is not just those people we are related to by blood or marriage. our friends are also our family. our shared experiences have created memories that we will carry for a lifetime. our yearly campmeeting gives some of us a chance to reminisce, to remember what brought us together as friends, and it also gives us the chance to build on those memories. that is one thing friends are
for -- to create memories with.

create a new memory with an old friend -- soon!