Have you noticed that certain objects can hold memories for you? That certain smells can transport you through time and space? That music will take you to a different place completely?
For example, in March when I went to China, I took a certain moisturizer. Now, whenever I use it, I think of being in snowy Harbin in northern China, piling on layer after layer of clothing to keep out the numbing cold and never quite succeeding.
The new shoes I bought to take to Japan with me this summer make me think of all the walking I did in Tokyo. While those shoes bring to mind the fabulous places I’ve been, they also remind me of the blisters I suffered because of my treks. :]
And speaking of clothing, an item that I can hardly bring myself to wear is the skirt I wore on my recent 14 hour flight back from Korea. The second that skirt touches my skin, I get a feeling of impatience and anxiousness over the long flight all over again. My brain is also tricked into thinking I won’t be able to change out of that skirt for over 24 hours.
Smells are what really hold memories for me. Smells can transport me back to a place in an instant. For example, I took a certain perfume with me to Puerto Rico to wear as I made my way from city to city on that island. I recently bought a new bottle of that perfume so that every morning when I put it on, I feel like I’m heading out into the tropical sunshine of that Caribbean island to go exploring.
If I smell sesame oil, I feel like I’m taking my lunch break from teaching in China and eating dumplings at my favorite little food stall on campus.
Hearing a certain song can remind me exactly where I was when I heard the song for the first time. It might have been with my best friends in junior high swimming in the back yard, or it might have been in a church building in Mexico.
It’s strange how our brains use objects and smells to remind us of our past, but I’m glad it does. I can travel in my mind over and over again just by eating a certain food or even hearing a particular song. Next time you take a trip, take a new album and make it your anthem. Take a new perfume, so that when you return, your nose will always be able to take you back. Eat foods there and then find then here. Your heart will thank you later.
What song, smell, or object transports you to a different place or time?