Our camping trip was fun. More fun than I thought it would be, in fact. I didn’t know many of the families going, but by the end of the trip I had enjoyed several great conversations, played with charming children, consumed burnt marshmallows prepared for me by the aforementioned charming children, and spent some nice time swimming and lounging around in the sunshine.
The smell of sunscreen is in my mind permanently associated with summer. A woman told me recently that she thinks the most enduring memory we can have of a person or experience is the scent of that person or experience. I’ve been thinking about this. GAP Dream reminds me of Wheaton. Catching a whiff of that scent, whether on myself (I still have remnants of an old bottle) or anyone else, takes me back to my room in Fischer with my roommate Kara (we both had that scent). And our laundry from home has this certain scent that isn’t matched anywhere else that just smells like home to me. And the scents of certain meals my Mom makes a lot are indelibly stamped in my memory. And the way my Dad smells. And the way FavoriteBoy smells, for that matter.
The only other memory I can think of that might be equally (if not more) powerful than scent is music. I think that the memories of music are even more powerful than other sounds, like speaking voices. I can’t remember exactly what Nathan’s voice sounds like when I’m away from him, but I can call to mind a hundred different pieces of music that are strong reminders of him, and it’s almost like transporting myself to where I stood when we listened to it or played it together.
I will never hear the Rimsky-Korsakov Russian Easter Overture without almost feeling as though I am back at Wheaton, recalling each detail vividly, reliving loving that music with Kelly and Graeme and my other friends. And Ben Folds always reminds me of Wheaton, too, because my suitemate used to listen to his music over and over. And Alison Krauss will always remind me of riding in my Dad’s truck to work each day during the summers. And this was more recent – but I will never hear Elijah without remembering how it felt to sit in my seat in orchestra on the stage in AJ Chapel at Gordon, finishing the Overture and hearing the Chorus come in with the first “Help, Lord!” It’s a powerful memory of a powerful experience.
I suppose it’s possible that music is only this powerful for me, because I am a musician. Maybe other people experience memories differently. But I think that for me, hearing a piece of music or catching a whiff of a scent are the most powerful things to call an old memory to mind.