Imagine you lost memories of part of your life. You remember being a child and growing to an adult age, and you remember the last three years of your life, but you have no memories from twenty years in between.
That’s sort of how I feel. No, I wasn’t in a coma, didn’t have a stroke, and do not have amnesia.
I moved away.
Many of you know that I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, especially if you read my short story anthology. I lived there until I was twenty-five years old and then moved to Florida. I made twenty-five more years of memories in the sunshine state. Then a few years ago, I moved back home.
Now that I’m back where I grew up, when I drive around neighborhoods, walk the dog, visit with family and friends, or even run errands, I sometimes have flashbacks. I have no memories of living in my hometown for much of my adult life, so every flashback is of when I was young. It’s as if I skipped from age twenty-five to fifty. Does that make any sense? Since most of my adult memories were not made here, when a memory surfaces, I recall being twenty-one, or seventeen, or twelve!
These long ago memories that surface for me are sometimes powerful. One warm summer breeze might have me at age ten riding bikes with Nancy to the public pool, bathing caps tied to the handlebars. A Journey song on the radio while driving might transport me to a high school party with the faces of all of those friends. I wrote about this time machine phenomena when I first moved back, and it continues three years later. Sometimes It makes me melancholy. Sometimes it makes me forget my age . . . until I step onto my arthritic right toe and buckle over.
Those days when I lived here before, most of my grandparents were still alive, my parents were still married, and I socialized more often with my many friends. Those are the things I get nostalgic for. On the other hand, I was a different person then . . . a person with a lot of insecurities and hang-ups. I’m glad I’m not that person anymore, and moving helped me to change. Strangely enough, because I’m a different person, on other occasions I’ve felt completely detached from the life I lived here before.
Do you feel attached or detached from your past? Do you have any powerful flashbacks that make you feel as if you’ve traveled in a time machine and have gone back to earlier years?