carrying memory

We all carry around memory with us everywhere we go… Active or passive, it helps us navigate, not trip, predict outcomes, reason, form relationships and live.

Saturday night at dinner with old friends in Switzerland who really haven’t changed much from the way I remember them in 2001, 2002 and 2005, V. got up to go outside for a cigarette. We were in an old country manor being renovated by our host. V. stopped suddenly and told A. (our host) that she loved the red tiles. Where did he find them? Suddenly she was swept up in a memory from her early adolescent years in which she was waxing the tile with a machine in her Brazilian home. She physically reenacted the scene, recounting how lazy she was to let the machine roar around by itself while she leaned against the wall yanking on the electrical cord occasionally. But suddenly she found herself pinned against the kitchen sink which was wet, being shocked by a short in the waxing machine’s circuitry. She screamed for help but her mother didn’t hear… And her life flashed before her eyes until the machine shook itself loose from the wall socket, saving her life.

The weight of memory wrapped up in an object is powerful, even in another country, another time. Those tiles in A.’s house had been salvaged from the attic of the early 18th century home, yet they resonated strongly in someone from another continent and another generation.

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