March 13, 2013


There are sometimes memories that breeze through me, not always through my mind; sometimes they pass, nearly unnoticed, through my belly or my arms, through my feet or through my heart. sometimes they touch in only slightly, as though dipping a toe into my memory bank...but remaining far away. Sometimes they are like faint stars - the ones you can only see if you look slightly away. the harder i try to grasp, the further away the memory gets. what i learned, in this case, is that i must take what i am offered: i must stop and absorb what this slice of memory is giving me, even if i cannot name it or place is, or remember what it connects to. 

Sometimes these memories come uninvited, they arrive out of nowhere, at insignificant times. they linger briefly, sometimes they stay for a while. often, though, there are triggers for these memories. sense triggers can be the most powerful - particularly smells and music. certainly you know the experience to which i refer. the smell memory is often fleeting, so quick that you have to close your eyes to try and keep it with you for a moment longer; it is a memory of childhood, of motherhood, or solitude, of togetherness; and it comes back to you through - of all places - your nose. 

The music trigger, for me, is one of the most malleable triggers...meaning sometimes (not always) i can control it. sometimes it brings back a particular place and time, a moment i lived, a time that i experienced. sometimes it reminds me of a general era, sometimes it reminds me of the exact heartbreaking joy i felt when i was 19 and the sun came out and i remembered myself and i opened my window for the first time that summer. 

sometimes, though, the memory that it triggers is more lucid. a bigger, deeper memory that takes me to the place where joy and sorrow meet and become equals. it is this memory that floors me, that makes my stomach ache with longing for something i have or have not known. something from this life and others. it is sad but also happy. it is brought to me by different types of music - sometimes the silliest song will harbor some pattern or melody that unlocks it. some songs will only unlock it once, and some songs will unlock it over and over again, for years to come.

Do you know what I'm talking about? Many years ago I called it the Full-Spectrum Ache. What do you call it?

What song unlocks it for you? What song unlocks it for your children?


  1. So there with you girl. So many songs. I have to say, I LOVED your Portland Family post. Sorry I didn't get to commenting, but I loved it. A family is who we grow up with, not just who we're born to. So inspiring.

  2. Music is absolutely a memory trigger for me. I get a lot of those feelings, not specific scenes but a full body feeling of being in another time, and head space. Sometimes it's not a place I want to be, and other times, I want to hold on and go deeper. It never stays. I often think about how it changes and fades over time and if one day, it'll be the last time I get that feeling. Great post friend.

  3. Naive melody...every single time...

  4. naive melody...every single time


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