Memory Lane.

This morning was a positively balmy 39 degrees and the sun was kind of out. I noticed all the walkers and joggers out during my drive to Sunday school and I felt a twinge of guilt. It’s been the New Year for two weeks now! Time to tackle those resolutions! 
But I’m not using the word resolution. I hate that word. It’s cliche and overused and means nothing at this point. Instead, thanks to Leonie Dawson’s Amazing Life workbook, I have a list of 100 things I want to do in 2014. On that list is the Redding Road Race; there are three courses. Henry and I are doing the 7 mile course.  How long can I blame my lack of training on winter weather, especially if I don’t take advantage of days like today? 
And that is how I accidentally took a 4.7 mile walk today. Two years ago, I was doing triathlons. Tonight, my calves are burning from a walk. I mean, it was hilly for sure because Redding….it has hills. And hills. And more hills to spare. Did I mention Redding is hilly? Because it is. My calves say so. I mean, RunKeeper says that I achieved an elevation record today! 
RunKeeper doesn’t lie. Still, it was a walk; I’m starting from scratch here. 
Okay, I’m moving on now. Back to my point. Which is this: I’d forgotten how meditative a solitary walk could be.  I’ve had so much on my mind that I can’t even sort any of it out. It’s all a jumbled mess,  crammed in there, like that junk drawer in your kitchen.  But the more I walked, the more my mind emptied itself out. Where did all my preoccupations go? I don’t know…they are certainly not gone. They’ve scattered to some sleepy corner of my mind. As I walked past a small farm, I caught a familiar scent on the wind and I was transported back to the house my grandparents rented every summer in Kerhonkson, in the Catskills, from my grandma’s Cousin Sadie. That yellow house on Stony Kill Road was such a huge part of my childhood, it’s surreal that it’s no longer a part of my life. In my mind’s eye, it seems like yesterday. I have vivid snapshots; a collection of vignettes. The gazebo behind the house, dank and musty because someone had the bright idea to put carpet in there, my grandma and her friends gathered at tables playing canasta while I dipped crackers in chopped liver because I didn’t know any better {when I think about it now, blech!}. The house that always smelled like mothballs. The little plastic tub of vermin poison that Grandma kept on the floor near the fridge. Grandma standing at the sink, scrubbing clothes with a washboard and hanging the stuff out to dry on the line. Out behind the house was a creek and we’d walk up the road with our father to a spot in the woods where we could hike through to a swimming hole called Flat Rocks. The rocks were indeed flat, and smooth, and formed a perfect slide down into a deep basin where minnows nibbled on our toes. 
But the scent I caught also reminded me of an idea that I shelved awhile back. For a long time now, I’ve noticed that I have significant gaps in my memory. At first, I blamed a biking accident I had in Ecuador. Besides being incredibly banged up (black eye, bleeding from elbows and knees), I also hit my head pretty hard on the ground (I wasn’t wearing a helmet, don’t tell anyone!), so I’m fairly sure I had a mild concussion. My short-term memory leaves much to be desired and my long-term memory is spotty, at best. If you ask my sister Kate, I just make stuff up half the time because I’ve imagined it to be true. Debunking my so-called memories has become a regular pastime for Kate, much to our amusement. But I digress. 
When Henry worked for a certain housekeeping maven, he brought home a review copy of a memoir written by a woman who lost her sense of smell after using a nasal swab cold remedy, and found that her memory suffered from it. So, I began to wonder… does not having hearing affect how well experiences are imprinted on my brain? There’s a lot from my childhood that I don’t remember, and a lot that I only know about because I’ve heard the stories. I do think some of it is just that I was too young to really comprehend the circumstances surrounding my parents’ divorce but my memories of childhood are hazy at best, and non-existent at worst. 
But can I tell you, as I’m typing this, I’m starting to realize that I probably remember more than I think I do but there’s been a lack of processing on my part. I’ve never really looked closely at the snapshots stored away in my memory bank; I’ve never examined the background or thought about what is going on outside the frame. Today’s walk was a trigger for that process–it was literally a trip down memory lane and now I need to start writing this stuff down, to let the story come out and release the inhibition that will allow me to cross off another thing on my list of things to do this year: learn to write a proper personal essay and submit it for publication. 
In the meantime, I plan to take more of those walks and rediscover more stories. 
{This post contains an affiliate link to Leonie Dawson’s Amazing Life via Thien-Kim of I’m Not The Nanny.}