Have you ever noticed that certain words provoke very specific feelings every time you encounter them? Or photos? I just watched one of those Facebook videos where they were making soup and they put in diced celery. I see celery and all I can think is OMG give me the dental floss! I'll be flossing my teeth for HOURS! AAAARGH!
I saw an ad for Fontana Village and I instantly felt nauseated. Why? Well when I was a kid my father's hobby was driving like a maniac. He was an energetic person and he never did anything slowly. So on Sunday afternoon my mother, in the tradition of her family, would suggest a drive, through the mountains. I HATED those Sunday drives. They meant me and my brother would be in the back seat while Daddy drove at breakneck speed on twisty, hilly mountain roads, while Mother screamed at him to SLOW DOWN! My brother would turn green and often need to vomit. One weekend we went to Fontana. Dad must have had too much caffeine that day because the road was a mountain nightmare and Dad drove it like Mario Andretti. So now when I see the word "Fontana" I don't think ooh, a lovely mountain resort, I think OMG I WANT OUT OF THE CAR NOW!
Songs, of course, are the primary purveyors of associations. They are like time capsules, instantly catapulting us back to when we first heard them, or a pivotal moment in life when we heard that particular song. That's why they are used so often in advertising. Think about it.
On the rare occasion when I hear Disco Inferno I am a Freshman in high school again, listening to a cassette of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on my tape recorder, and wishing I could dance. (I love to disco dance, but it's not something you want to see unless you have been told in advance that I am not having a seizure.)
Whenever I hear "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific, I hear my dad singing it. He had a lovely untrained baritone voice. (And when he danced with me I didn't look so awful.)
When I hear Bad Bad Leroy Brown I am 12 years old again, and Joanne and I are singing it in the car. I can still sing every word just like Jim Croce..
Sometimes touch summons memories. Whenever my son gets a very short haircut and I run my hand over his hair I am right back in his orphanage, March 13, 2007, and I get to hug him for the first time, and kiss the top of his head. It was one of those pivotal moments in my life, when I knew with absolute certainty I was his mama. [below, him a couple of weeks later, at my hotel]
When I feel Lola's velvety ears I am a little girl feeling my blue velvet dress that I wore as the flower girl in my cousin's wedding. That was a happy occasion because I got to dress up and be in a wedding, which is a big deal to a 6 year old. Then I was told I could NOT eat all the cheese straws and the whole experience went south but that's another association...
When I smell Estee Lauder or Coty's L'Origon I can still feel when it felt like to hug my grandmother.. [below, Mamaw with me and my brother and my cousins Linda and Bill - all of us taller than she was, and I was only about 12]
I took a bisquit the other night and buttered it carefully, then put honey on it and took a bite. That flavor brought back my grandfather to me. He would sit and butter a piece of toast or a bisquit, and carefully pour some honey on it, often adding a small bit of the honeycomb, then feed it to me. He loved honey and he believed in its healing powers. I taste it and it seems to be what love tastes like..
My dad always smoked, until about a dozen years before he died, so when I smell smoke I think of him; not as gross as it might seem, although I will never smoke again. I also think of him when I see a lake with mountains behind it. Some of our happiest family times were at the little cabin on Douglas Lake.
Sometimes when I can't sleep, Dad and I take a walk on the beach, in my mind. It's a beautiful sunny day and there's a nice breeze. I can smell the salty water and a faint smell of Sea & Ski, which Mom always made me wear. Dad and I walk casually down the beach, me in the shallow water, loving the feeling of the sand on my feet, watching the waves, and feeling Dad's hand in mine. One day, that will be us in heaven, I've no doubt.