Have I ridden down this road before? It looks familiar, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Some of the scenery looks the same and it just feels like I’ve been down it before, but who knows? Maybe I’ve been on this road before and the reason it’s not quite familiar is I came from the other direction. Yeah, that’s it. Or is it?
Riding a motorcycle puts us in these places all the time and even driving around with your window down can have the same effect on you. People, places, sounds, sights and smells – pretty amazing isn’t it? A quick whiff of a certain smell can bring back a flood of memories. In the blink of an eye you are transported to a place back in time with thoughts and conversations as clear as if it just happened yesterday. It could be a word or phrase a friend always said to remind us of tall tales and laughter that would never end. It’s crazy to think that a trigger like that can be so powerful – but it’s only if you are paying attention. It happens all the time I’m sure, but with the daily distractions, we don’t have time to process it or recognize it when it presents itself. How great would it be to catch each and every one as it happened and for that brief moment remember “the good times.”
It can be as simple as passing an alfalfa field that is ready to cut. You pass by this field of alfalfa for days on end, and then all of a sudden you see the bluish purple hue and realize it is ready to bail. When I see something like that, as insignificant as it may seem, it takes me back to a time when living in the moment was so very important and my eyes and ears were open. It has always stayed with me and for that I’m grateful, because the connection between that moment in time and an alfalfa field today means a lot to me. The smell of a skunk takes me back to being a kid laying in bed late at night during the summer with my head next to the open window in my room. For those that can’t remember, there wasn’t always air-conditioning. The clear bottle of Miller High Life Beer takes me to 1982 and hanging out with friends Mark, Tim and Randy from around the Flush, Kansas area. Good times with good friends and good beer. The “event” or memory is one thing, but there is always something within the memory that starts you thinking back to when, where or who was there. There was a time when Valentino’s Pizza in Manhattan Kansas had gum stuck to their sign twenty feet in the air. Who knew it would stick when I threw it? Every time I think of Valentino’s, it reminds me of that night.
Maybe it’s the taste of homemade ice cream or the smell of the aftermath when a firecracker goes off. The sound of rain and thunder, a train whistle or the wind blowing through the trees. And of course anything your grandmother made in the kitchen can put you right back there standing on the chair next to her. I’m sure slamming your finger in a car door won’t take you there, but the song on the radio that was playing just before you got out will. You would think living in the same small town I grew up in would be sensory overload and yes, there are plenty of things that can stop you in your tracks and cause you to reflect on a memory, but in some instances, it becomes the normal and those memories become engrained in you to the point of seeing things in the light in which they were originally cast. My mind’s eye still sees things the way they were when it comes to White City, and not knowing if that’s a good or bad thing, but it is what it is. If the light is just right, and you squint with your good eye, this small town hasn’t changed a bit. From what I’m told, White City has a train go by every hour or so, blowing its whistle. I’m sure it does, but I don’t hear the whistle any more. It must be my mind’s ear is not listening.
So wait for it. It will happen today as it happened yesterday. Those triggers that bring back even the smallest bits of memories. Good or bad memories for sure, but either way memories all the same.