One bite and I was instantly transported back to 1977. . .
I am totally fascinated with how our brains imprint memories–not only only the images, but also the sounds, smells, and feelings that go along with them. The good, the bad, and the ugly. For better or worse, the brain captures it all. In an instant we can enter into a total recall of an imprinted memory before we even know what has hit us. Tonight, I had one of those moments. One bite into a delicious banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting and I was instantly transported back to 1977. September of 1977 to be exact. . .
I was eight years old back then when my dad died suddenly. Although there are moments that are a total blur during that time, there are several others that I remember vividly.
I remember saying good-bye to my dad the morning that he died. I remember being picked up at school later that day knowing that something was dreadfully wrong. I remember seeing my mom and hearing the news. I remember a steady stream of family and friends, the piles of casseroles and cakes, and I remember peanut butter frosting.
I have no idea why, of all the things to be lodged into my brain from that time, peanut butter frosting is it. Oddly enough, I remember where I was sitting (on the third of four bar stools along our kitchen bar) when I first tasted that yummy stuff. I loved it, apparently a lot. I even remember telling my mom about how much I loved it. Several months later when we found more cake with peanut butter frosting stashed in the freezer? I was ecstatic. Since then, the taste of that frosting has always brought me back to that time. (The memories ironically aren’t really that sad anymore. Instead, feelings of love surround those memories.)
After tonight’s flashback, I thought of some other things that instantly transport me back in time. (Side note: Interestingly, up until age 18, these memory triggers are all smells and really aren’t attached to any significant event, at least that I am consciously aware of. After age 18, songs suddenly took the place of smells, are attached to significant events, I am consciously aware of them, and I definitely won’t be getting into those here!)
Here’s a sampling of some of my favorites:
- Mr. Sketch markers? Mrs. Brown’s first grade class. (I spent a lot of time sniffing those wonderful markers, mango and black licorice are still my favorites, and yes, I have a pack of them at my office right now. Explains a lot doesn’t it?)
- Play Dough and Elmer’s Paste? Preschool, of course!
- Bonne Belle lip gloss? Mrs. Anderson’s third grade class. I couldn’t believe my luck when they came out with the giant sticks on a string. They still make those fat luscious sticks of gloss. In fact, I bought a watermelon one last summer (no string attached.)
- L’Oreal lipstick? Junior year of high school. Sea Lily anyone? (Incidentally, while a beautiful color, Sea Lily should have NEVER graced my lips. Apparently, “color palette” was not part of my vocabulary then.) I bought a couple of tubes (in shades much more suitable to my coloring I might add) in the past year just because of the smell.
- Love’s Baby Soft? My entire late elementary and junior high experience.
- Aussie Sprunch Spray? Senior year all the way.
What about you? Any sights, sounds, smells, songs, or feelings that instantly bring you back to another time? Another place?
“Songs and smells will bring you back to a moment in time more than anything else. It’s amazing how much can be conjured with a few notes of a song or a solitary whiff of a room. A song you didn’t even pay attention to at the time, a place that you didn’t even know had a particular smell.” ― Emily Giffin, Something Borrowed