Visual clues are very important to me for accessing memories, perhaps it is one reason I have always loved taking photographs although I have to say organising them is not a strong point of mine. I am sure I have written about my fifteenth liver transplant celebration and how the videos taken transport me back to the party and allow me to access atmosphere and emotions that would elude me otherwise.
So this is the point when I look back over my posts to re-read what I wrote about videos and memory and to my frustration I cannot find it. This is becoming an issue for me, I don’t want to repeat what I have said before but either I cannot find the right words for searching or the standard WordPress search is not fulfilling my needs. Surely such a simple thing should not cause the anxiety I am feeling right now? I closed my eyes to relax a bit, and find a memory of some writing on the level of meaning imparted by the reading out of a sentence. The crazy thing seems to be that that is referring to the first post I ever wrote.
Anyway, the point is that photographs can help access memories that I seemingly cannot access other ways and videos can completely transport me. I just had a thought though. It is better if the images are from a viewpoint I recognise because I just remembered my wedding video and because it is focussed on my wife and I a lot of the time, it isn’t particular useful for memory accessing. But my visual memory isn’t only about photographs and videos, it is about what I see too. What I am trying to say is that if I go back to a place I have been before, I will know I have been there. If I go back often, then the reasons I went back to that place will be triggered. This can lead to some bittersweet moments.
As I travel around my town on my bike, memories of people and places will be triggered. I may pass by the second place our business worked from (I am actually sitting in the first place) and remember the struggles my wife had. The next move was to a flat above a fishmongers, where I became much more involved in the running of the business. I can remember ethical dilemmas, roofs floating, and shit on the doorstep. Nearby is the junction where I got knocked off my bike. I remember the hair dressing shop who took me in and the man that drove me to hospital; I remember the husband who blamed me for the damage to the car his wife was driving.
Currently though, I am more aware of the places of the people that have died. I often cycle past the flats my friend Diana lived in and there is a sadness that lingers around them but I can also access the laughs we had and acts of kindness we both gave to each other. Then there is the house where another cyclist died rather suddenly of bile duct cancer, whose widow still lives there; he was a voracious reader and teller of interesting tales.
I guess there is history in these places personal to myself that most other people know nothing about, stories that will on the most part die with the people involved. I think that is sad in itself. These ghosts also remind me of the present: the friend who is patiently waiting to get a clear diagnosis of the liver disease he has; another friend going through chemotherapy; the friend dying of bowel cancer.
The latter friend’s husband posted a picture of his family on top of a mountain on social media yesterday; there is no sign of illness around his wife. A beautiful image I found very poignant; my eyes glistened as sadness filled my heart.