I have quite a strong dissonance with the term “walking down the memory lane.”
Quietly, in the general context, it is used for any form of reminiscing, remembering, recalling and reliving times and experiences one has had earlier. By its absolute etymology, it’s a fine enough phrase in itself.
I have a problem with the way it has progressed through the years, as if memories are something stored in a locker which you can access at any time by logging in. Certain ones are - deeply etched and fairly recent ones to be precise - but most memories, in my experience, exist in a dormant state until a trigger livens them up.
And thus, you don’t “walk” down a memory lane. You suddenly feel something and now you’re in a particular lane of the city of memories associated with that feeling. You spot familiarity and the environment around you morphs into a different memory lane, reenacting that familiarity. Memory lanes either surround you unexpectedly, or memory triggers kidnap you and dump you into one.
And for someone like me, it can be a huge inconvenience. I like to know where I am going and which lane I am in, and sudden appearance of the labyrinth of memories can be a huge disruption. Imagine you’re focused on one thing and a sudden trigger drops you at a fresh new memory lane - killing all efficiency, work rate and sometimes even progress. And then, when you’re blank, or you need a distraction, memories refuse to pop up; as if you’re stuck at the door without having the key. I have a problem with the insinuation that memories can be voluntarily triggered. So far, that has not been the case with me.
And the even more frustrating thing is that triggers are so well cascaded and hidden, that the room you have lived in for your life has concealed triggers taking you to memories you thought obsolete. Like finding a key while cleaning up your room.
Very, very much like finding a key while cleaning up your room.
I hadn’t seen that key in years, and yet I recognised it in a jiffy. I knew where to put it in, and as keen I was for opening an unopened drawer for years, I as equally apprehensive.
I slowly put the key into the drawer, and forced it open somewhat. Pulled it through and I was laid on highways of memories.
Two magnetic keychains which when joined would spell “best friends forever.” And I realised that whenever as a young boy I’d plan on gifting the other half to someone, that friendship would be dead. Ironically, a “best friends forever” keychain became a stark call out years ahead about my inability to maintain friendships.
A small thread, with a couple of small beads still around it. The friendship band tied to my wrist in 9th grade by my school crush. Things ended rather awkwardly, and the thread now represents the other painful strand of my school life.
Badges from many of my successfully completed youth leadership camps. Pang here is I’ve lost contact with all of the people I met there, the last and most painful bridge being burned a couple of weeks ago. Those badges are now a stark reminder of a “leader” who couldn’t keep his pack.
Images with my work on them, cut and created by someone who believed in me and wanted to stay around me, and yet I pushed her away. An excruciating mark of my failure of appreciating people in my life.
I looked at all of these. That drawer, unintentionally and subconsciously had become a dump yard of stuff with memories which mark my failure in dealing with humans. It was a drawer with proof of my social failings.
I stared at the drawer’s insides. I realised what I had to do.
I went and fetched the watch which was now too painful to look at, forget wearing it. And I put it in the drawer, as the newest souvenir of my failure with people.