Pathways you’d forgotten existed

posted in: Life and things | 4

Picture of library shelvesThe brain is a wonderful thing. I imagine it as a library, with all the recent chronicles up the front, in the reading room with the electronic equipment and bright lights. But as you walk along between the shelves that mark the years the shadows deepen, sounds become hushed, the smooth, stone floor disintegrates into a rocky path, and cobwebs and dust obstruct your path. Maybe you’ll end up in a vault, lit only by flickering candles where the darkness dances to the movement of your passing. The very air is old, filled with the distinctive smell of words written years ago, when they were in the reading room. But life moves on, and now they’re left to moulder in the dark. It’s not a path most people often travel, down into that memory vault. But sometimes, just sometimes…

You know that quiet time in the morning when your mind wakes up but you’re not ready to get up, so you lie there with your eyes closed and drift? And your brain wanders off on pathways you’d forgotten existed, down between those stacks of shelves, deep into the vault where time has all but obliterated any traces that a path ever existed.

A face comes up, with no name attached. A guy from the past. Who was he? Oh yes. A guy I met at dancing. He came from a Catholic family. He had eleven or twelve siblings, most of them brothers. I went to his house once, for dinner. The parents had a picture of Jesus hung on the lounge room wall, one of those rather grisly images, with a heart. We attended a wedding together, too. His brother married the daughter of a Methodist minister. That was fascinating. Being Methodist, the reception was alcohol-free. And fun free, too, as far as I could tell, at least on the Methodist side of the hall. Po-faced people seated at the Methodist tables scowled at the Catholics over their orange juice. We’d smuggled in Vodka to lace the OJ, and we danced and laughed and had fun.

We didn’t go out for long, just a few weeks. He was a nice guy, but not really my type. I’m not into religion.

My mind pushes on, shoving aside tangled vines until it fixes on a memory. Dancing, where I’d met whatsisname. That was proper dancing, foxtrots and modern waltz, cha-cha and jive. Gilkison’s dance studio ran a dance every Saturday night. It wasn’t formal, people came to dance. If you didn’t know how, someone would teach you. I went often, sometimes straight after playing hockey on Saturday afternoon. I had energy then. I’d catch a bus into town, on my own, and I’d catch a bus home, on my own, then walk from the stop to the house at eleven. Unless I took a lift with somebody.

Remember the cold feet, my mind whispers? I wiggle my toes in response. Yes. After all that activity, when I stopped moving and if it was a cold night, my feet would feel like ice blocks. I’d wash off the makeup, crawl into bed and wait to go to sleep. But I couldn’t, because of the frozen feet. We didn’t have electric blankets in those days. Eventually, I’d crawl out of bed again and run hot water over my feet in the bathroom, praying that I wouldn’t disturb my mother, sleeping in the next room.

And now I’m up, writing it all down. What sort of memories do you dredge up at those quiet times? I think this is fun, and interesting. If you’d care to share, take a trip down a pathway you’d forgotten existed, and write what you found in your own blog, and leave a link to the article in a comment here. I’ll certainly come and visit you, and leave a comment.

Oh, and thanks for calling. I appreciate it.

4 Responses

  1. Jo Skehan

    Greta I often have memories come to me like this but then I get busy and forget all about them so when I think I should write my blog, I sit for ages thinking of nothing and not being able to remember any of the memories! I’ll have to start jotting them down in the middle of the night – at the risk of waking my husband (who will snore on regardless I’m sure) and my cat Clayton who will automatically think it’s time to demand food again. I enjoyed your walk down memory lane. xx

  2. Kerrie Paterson

    Great article and fun memories, Greta. I’ve started morning journalling in the last few months and sometimes I go back into those hazy pathways. I should do it more often. It’s surprising what you can find in there 🙂

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