Once In A Lifetime (Talking Heads)

I was going through a box of random old photos recently and ended up wandering through some treasured memories of adventures and friends. It’s funny how shared experience can forever weave different people into your fabric, however brief their imprint. I’m struck by the way our brains sort and recall memories. Sometimes events that seem trivial wind up being fully formed memories, tangible and enduring, while others quietly fade from our thoughts.

For me, the biggest triggers of memories are songs and photos. I can be transported back to a time and place and connect to the way I felt being there at a particular moment. Sadly, some of those connections are fleeting, and not completely filled out. I find myself struggling to recall what happened next or previously, but in those moments of pure remembrance, I’m there.

I save letters too. I have letters from my paternal grandmother and from my dad that I cherish. I have a couple of cassette tapes my dad made for me when we travelled, wandering around recording his musings but I am afraid to play them because I fear the tapes are too fragile. I don’t know how I’d react to hearing his voice either but knowing I have them somehow is enough. I have letters from random friends, and from a post high school boyfriend who wrote from the road when touring with his band. They all are part of my story too.

Reminiscing with friends also naturally serves a trigger. As we move through our lives we pick up new friends who serve as markers of specific periods of time in our stories. I spent a summer in London in the mid-eighties doing an art program at the Royal College of Art. I made two fast friends during that time who I spent much of my out of class time with exploring London and enjoying nights in the local pub near school in South Kensington as well as some fun nightclubs. We had a some interesting adventures during that summer, memories that only we three share. Memories that I was reminded of recently when I came across a few old photos of that summer.

We three lost touch fairly quickly as we didn’t live in the same states and the internet was not yet fully formed. We returned to our lives and next chapters. A decade later, Facebook reconnected me with one of them so we wish one another “Happy Birthday” and get little glimpses of one another’s lives.

This is true of other Facebook friends I have. People who knew me when (and whom I knew when)…cherished shared times in our lives that had impact and significance but were fleeting in the context of an entire life, meaningful chapters in our biographies. People who know me from a very specific vantage, who influenced journey.

The thing is, with my memories fragmented and sometimes unreliable, I’d love to reconnect with old friends from different periods in my life. I have a tribe of friends who have known me for almost fifty years, who have been witness to quite a lot of my life, but there are times, like London, and periods where my social life existed outside that tribe of friends, where having people from those phases to talk to and to recollect to better round out my uneven memories. I would love to have those opportunities to reacquaint myself with long ago me(s).

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