Memories are wonderful things. Looking at old photos and exchanging memories with friends and families is always a pleasure. The down side for me is that you’re experiencing them from where you stand now, looking back as if at a foreign land you once knew which is now too far away to return to. There’s a melancholy to memories, the pleasure tinged with a sadness at events and people that are dead and gone, at years that have slipped by and can never be recovered.
But sometimes the smallest thing can trigger a memory so strong that for a moment you time travel, actually re-living an event the way you did at the time; an out of body experience that places you back in that foreign land where loved ones you’ve lost are still alive and well and you’re the person you were all those years ago.
It’s not something you can engineer or recall at will, it’s as if your mind knows knows the technique but has been hypnotised to forget it, and only a certain sound, smell or touch will trigger recall.
Sometimes, when I hear seagulls cry I’m transported back to Cornwall and childhood holidays of endless sunshine, harbours, fishing boats and the warmth of a family’s love. I can smell the sea, hear the gulls and see the faces of my family around me just as clearly as if they were standing next to me now.
Sometimes, when I smell wood smoke I travel back to Ireland, to smell the hedgerows of wild honeysuckle, to hear the sound of the sea rolling pebbles on the shore and to taste again the cinnamon and currants inside a moist sponge finger coated in pink icing.
One of the strongest triggers for me is music. Although I can sprinkle my life’s memories with the music I have loved and recall a million memories, only certain sounds have that ability to move me out of my present dimension and into another one. They appear to be songs that mark times in my life, that were in some way life-changing and when I hear them I am returned to the foreign land of my past. I time travel.
These are just three of them:
LA Woman – The Doors
It’s my first package holiday abroad. Jo and I are on Menorca, walking over the cliffs from Cala Alcaufar to S’Algar. I have a summer cold. My head is aching, my nose won’t stop running and my throat is parched. It’s 36°C and the sun is scorching my skin. Out of the heat haze someone puts LA Woman on the jukebox and we follow the sound to a small bar with chilled beers, shady tables and The Doors. I can taste the beer, hear Jo chatting and watch the sunlight playing through the palm fronds on the terrace below my feet.
Everybody Wants To Rule The World – Tears For Fears
It’s a sunny, summer, Friday afternoon and I’m driving to Hay on Wye for the weekend. The car is filled with my closest friends and Tears for Fears is blasting out on the cassette player. We’re driving down the A49 through Whitchurch, filled with the anticipation of another excellent weekend ahead and a summer in which we’ll hear that song a thousand times and never tire of it.
Wonderwall – Oasis
I’m in one of the training rooms of the Training & Enterprise Council in Middlewich and it’s the staff Christmas party. There has been a change of Government and our days as an entity are numbered. For ten years we have been the Dream Team, a top performing company in a high pressure environment and soon we’ll be going our different ways. Something has happened to the sound system and there’s silence where loud music should be.
From the semi darkness a lone voice begins to sing:
“Today is gonna be the day
That they’re gonna throw it back to you.”
Gradually more voices join in, mine included. The lyrics are a symbol of an era which is coming to an end socially, politically and musically. Someone hands me a beer. I see the faces around me as they smile and sing and I know for certain that I am standing once more in the office where I spent so many hours of my life and I’m singing:
“And all the roads we have to walk are winding
And all the lights that lead us there are blinding”
Do you time travel?
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+