Note: I am on my emergency vacation.
This is a piece I wrote a few months ago and never did anything with. Waiting for the right window, I guess. Maybe it’s today.
Sometimes I think there are wormholes in memory.
The other day I had a flash of déjÃ vu so intense, so disorienting that it tilted everything out of balance.
And in that imperceptible moment of in-between, something began pulling out bits of memory and reassembling them into present time.
Memories from all five senses flowing seamlessly together, replicating a certain place and a certain time exactly.
Most mundane trigger ever.
I was bringing up laundry from the basement.
My brother and my gentleman friend were brewing beer in the kitchen.
One minute I was walking up the stairs. The next I was back — completely — at my job at the homebrew store.
Fifteen years ago? Ten years ago? I’d worked there at a couple of different points, so I couldn’t even orient myself in time. All I know is I was back.
I was back.
But I don’t mean to say that it took me back. Or that it reminded me of there.
I was there. Then. Not partly here and partly there. Not partly now and partly then.
Only there. Only then.
Falling into memory.
It’s hard to say where memory begins and ends.
Something about the sensation of coming up that dark staircase into the heady aroma of hoppy alchemy.
Something about the angle of the climb. And the strains of music from radio soft in the background.
The flickering light on the dark basement stairs. The smells of malt and grains and hops. The weight and heft of the load in my hands. The flash of unexpected sunlight as I came through the door.
Until standing in the doorway, blinking in that sunlight, I stood confused. Temporarily paralyzed. I was in my kitchen but it made no sense. It wasn’t what I’d been expecting.
Everything was the same. And everything was completely different.
And that was when I realized that I’d actually stepped back into memory. And not just back into memory but into a very specific memory.
Because what I had been expecting to find in place of the kitchen was an entirely different day.
An old, faded day that no longer exists. A pretty day. Conjured up again by a precise and accidental melding of scent, sound and sensation. Exactly that. An old, faded day.
But what does memory know, really?
It was all right there. And at the same time, it was — it is — a little hazy and more than a bit dusty.
I’m rounding the last stairs and coming through the door. And G. is there. But why? To pick me up from work?
Looking a bit bashful — but again, why? — and holding something.
And there I am too, tired and achy and happy with flecks of crystal malt dust on my face, smelling of hops. Smiling.
He has something to tell me. Or show me. I can’t remember. Music. Someone begins to speak.
And then there I was in my kitchen again. Blinking. Taken completely aback by the complete now-ness of right now.
Here I am. And most of the time I’m pretty sure it’s where I’m supposed to be.
So I start talking myself down, into the moment that is right now. The important one.
I say, very clearly: “I want to be here now. I’m ready to be here. Now. Present time. Here. I. Am.”
[Ed. Also I might have done some hardcore wacky energy protection things because I’m that way.]
And then I begin sorting everything out, as if I were a soap opera character with a complicated case of amnesia:
“My love, this is your kitchen.
This is Hoppy House.
It’s where you live.
That man in the skull-and-crossbones apron is your gentleman friend. You love everything about him.
You do not work in a homebrew store. You run a company. Your business partner is a duck.
And G. is not here. He’s married and has a sweet little boy and you are that sweet little boy’s far-away auntie person who sends gifts.
Everything is exactly as it should be. Everything you need is inside of you. You are safe and loved and you are right here. Right now. Here. Now.”
I like to trust (or imagine that one day I will be able to trust) that every memory has purpose.
That it heals something. Releases something. Reminds you of some quality or experience that is important or necessary in that moment. Sometimes it even tells you what you are tripping over. Or what you used to be tripping over.
It returns you to yourself.
And at the same time, memory can take you out of yourself and away from yourself. It can lead you into walled gardens where the only thing that grows is hurt and regret.
Sometimes returning from the memory is as important as the memory.
I don’t have anything smart to add to this. I’m just thinking about memories. And about doors. And about different ways to return things.
Or to return to things.
Or to return to myself through things. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.