Sense Memory

Sense memory is a funny thing. I remember learning to evoke it in an acting class in 10th grade. Funny how a scent, a taste, a sound, a song can take you back to a time and a place with full detail and full emotion. I had a couple of such experiences this week.

February 22rd marked the 1 month anniversary of totaling my car. It was also the day I finally bought a new one. Sitting in the car dealership, writing the date over and over again on all the papers I signed brought back all the fear I felt when I knew the accident was going to happen and that there was absolutely nothing I could do to prevent it.

February 23rd marked the anniversary of the death of the love of my life. I had had a crush on Sean since I was a little girl. He was 2 and a half years older (read: off limits by any reasonable parents’ standards) and we went to the same church. I was finally allowed to date him officially when I turned 15. We got caught making out by the soda machine in the church basement long before then. We dated until my freshman year of college. At the beginning of freshman year I was “influenced” by the student Christian organization that my boyfriend wasn’t “Christian” enough, that I was “unequally yoked”, so I, like a dummy, broke up with him. It turned out to be a technical break up as we continued to see each other when he was home for breaks. We were in college in different states. I remember we had plans to get together during spring break 1993, but before he got home I got the call from his grandmother. Sean had been killed, shot in the head while he sat in his car, on the way home for spring break.

I have never cried about anyone’s death. This one broke my heart. I cried on the 23rd when I realized the date. We were young and in love. I am so sure, in retrospect, that I would have married him and had his children had he lived. In September of the very same year I started dating Ex. Maybe, just maybe there’s a connection. I’m still very close to his sister and brother. They treat me like family. They treated Ex like family. I’m so sure they would have been my family had Sean not been killed.

OK, this story is not so depressing. In the line of sense memory, the other day I heard Anita Baker’s song, Sweet Love. It takes me back to a very funny memory. His name was Jared. He was my boyfriend in 8th grade (we were the same age, so it was allowed by the ‘rents, besides my dad and his dad were Boy Scouts together). He was the flame that wouldn’t die after the break-up 8th grade summer and well into college years. We weren’t together, but you couldn’t have told us that when we were together. (OK, I just went back and changed his name to protect his identity. He may be married to someone who may take exception to our college years.) But the memory has nothing to do with all that…just with our one particular day.

We decided one afternoon, hanging out at my house in the summer, that since all of the rest of our friends were having sex, we should too. We turned on mood music. Anita Baker. I distinctly remember the pain of our unsuccessful attempts whenever I hear the song Sweet Love. We gave up after 2 or 3 tries and decided to just go outside and ride our bikes. Ah, young love. I die laughing every time I hear that song.

Certain smells get me too. I associate them with certain people. It’s usually a very good thing. The smell of Hennessy, weed and Curve for men is intoxicating. Reminds me of very, very good times.

What takes you back?


4 thoughts on “Sense Memory

  1. You laughed at me the other day when the song came on and I blurted out the year. Certain songs take me back so vividly that I can remember whole conversations that took place when the song was out.

    “Two Occasions” and “Tender Love” take me way back. The smell of my grandmother’s cooking takes me back. Smooth jazz, especially late at night, not only takes me back, it makes me weep. For that, I hate smooth jazz.

  2. I really love this post. And I’m so sorry about Sean.

    You and Jared trying to have sex and then deciding to go out and ride your bikes is classic. What a wonderful story.

    Every piece of music takes me back to the exact time and place I first heard it. And smells do the same. Sometimes I’m sure the world smells like my childhood.

  3. Good: Richard Marx song, summer nights…reminds me of the Summer of 90 w/ my best friend from Canada at our lake place. ~shakes head~ good times!

    Bad: Obssession colonge for men…BAD mother Effer had NO right to take my precious “gift” NO RIGHT!
    ~makes punching motion~
    Smack him in the privates!

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