Saturday, August 6, 2011

On Sensory Memory

Our senses are our strongest weapons.

Sight allows us to avoid running into things, or stepping into a trap waiting to snap around our ankle.

Smell tells us when the chicken has spoiled and will insure us a lengthy ER visit if we eat it.

Taste backs smell up. It sends up the red flag to spit out whatever we're ingesting before we end up sitting in hard plastic chairs waiting to be seen at the ER.

Sound alerts us to horns blaring, sirens shrieking, or the urgent voice of someone yelling, "Fire!".

Touch can warn us when there is heat radiating from an object, or if something is rough and might cut, tear, or poke us.

Our senses are amazing.

And can also be a pain in the ass.

Or our best friend.

As I've said, a time or two in previous posts, my husband is a U.S. Marine. He deploys for seven months at a stretch, and my daughter and I don't see him or hear from him during the majority of that time.

While he is gone there are days I can go about my routine (because routines are incredibly important to a toddler, and even to a wife, when someone they love is gone), without feeling the painful thud of my heart. Everything will be hunky dory, and traitorous senses wake up.

The scent of his aftershave will assault my nose as I walk through a store, and I'll look for him. Memories of him flood my mind, and though they are all happy, my mood becomes sad. It's the same way with his voice.

It's a rare and happy occurrence when he can call, and though his voice brings me happiness, it too brings me sadness. Sometimes it's easier to deal with his absence when I don't hear his voice anywhere but in my dreams.

Touch can often be the hardest one for me.

The texture of my sheets reminds me of the empty space beside me at night. The roughness of his extra uniform pokes at our missed hours. Mixed with the other senses, it's the one most likely to render me momentarily stupid...or weepy.

Sight can be a bitch all by itself.

Going places, and seeing sites you've visited with someone you care about can be both rewarding and heartbreaking. You've made memories there, and all of them flood back as you retrace the footsteps of your past...even in your present.

Big Train Chai
The same can be said about Taste.

My best friend, an amazing and thoughtful person, lives in Washington State. Approximately 1500 miles away. While I was visiting her last winter she introduced me to Big Train Chai, and my tastebuds have never been the same. In fact, whenever I breakdown and order Starbucks Chai, they throw up the proverbial middle finger.

It's just not the same.

Out here, in the middle of nowhere, there isn't a store where I can pick up the large bags of liquid manna. Yes, I could order it online and have it delivered, and I would...but I don't have to.

She sends it to me, and it means so much more.

On the mornings I allow myself a steaming (or in many cases, ice cold) cup of liquid heaven, I think of her. No matter how long it has been since I've seen her, she's right next to me as I take those first precious sips.

Yes, our senses are our greatest weapons... but they're also our greatest link to our past.

What sights, sounds, tastes, and smells bring memories back to you? I'd love to hear them.



  1. Beautiful. Amazing as always. This really touched me.

  2. Beautiful post, you write very well! New follower from blogaholic, look forward to your future posts!