Tracing memories…

A few weeks ago, my aunt gave me her unused copy of Cheryl Richardson’s Turning Inward, a lovely journal of self-discovery. I’m loving this unexpected hand-me-down as it’s forced me to really reflect upon what’s important in my life, what I fear most, and what’s blocking me from unleashing my potential.

Tonight, I turn to page 22, where I’m asked about a favourite memory. I struggle against the memory that immediately pops into my head as it involves an ex, with whom things ended badly. Despite this, I start to write…

"Recalling days of sadness, memories haunt me. Recalling days of happiness, I haunt my memories.' Robert Brault

Last summer, my ex-boyfriend bundled me into his van and brought me to Ballyferriter, a small Irish-speaking town in County Kerry on the west coast of Ireland. This was where I had spent my childhood vacations. I hadn’t been there in 16 years so I was extremely excited to revisit this special place.

This impromptu trip has elbowed its way into my patchwork quilt of favourite memories because it was beautiful in its own right and because it awakened a whole landscape of wonderful older memories…

We peered into the boarded-up caravan where I’d spent summers playing heated games of cards and Scrabble, where I’d listened to the tap-dancing rain when I wasn’t warbling along to Mariah Carey on the Walkman, where my cousins and I had huddled together as we whispered ghost stories and feasted on apple drops and Dip Dabs, where my grandma had taught me how to knit a tea-cosy while my granddad completed the Irish Times’ crossword, where we’d dipped bread soldiers into runny eggs with RTÉ Radio One  playing in the background…

We visited the beach where my family and I had picnicked and ridden waves, built sand castles and squelched across seaweed, savouring the sounds and smells of the ocean. This was where I’d drunk my first can of cider and chatted up boys in my native tongue.

We pitched a tent (which was an experience in itself) and drove into the village. I pictured myself, as a child, walking into town, stopping to pick black currants and suck on fuchsias. I remembered dangling from monkey-bars in the hotel playground as I gazed out at An Fear Marbh

An Fear Marbh (the dead man)

We wandered around the village as I regaled my beau with stories of my brother, cousins and I going to the pub to drink  Coke “in a bottle, with a straw”, playing pool against the locals, then buying lollipops and turnover bread with our winnings of punts and pennies, and investing in my first pair of dangly earrings…

Having showed him all the sights, we munched on fish and chips, washed down with a pint of the black stuff. That night, we cosied up on the beach while the crashing waves serenaded us…

The following morning, we woke ourselves up with an excruciatingly refreshing swim. We warmed up by running the length of the beach, then executing a number of yoga moves while still in our bathing suits (much to the astonishment of the well-wrapped-up passers-by). Afterwards, we used a small camping stove to make the most delicious breakfast I have ever had (no exaggeration) of poached eggs and tea…

Writing about this bittersweet memory has taught me three things:

  1. The most wonderful memories are made up of the simplest scenarios.
  2. Even though life hasn’t turned out the way you expected, what happened before still counts.
  3. Just because someone is no longer in your life, doesn’t mean the memories you shared with them should be tinged with sorrow.

Last summer, I was happy and in love. Last summer, I delighted in spooning and holding hands. Last summer, the man I loved made it possible for me to rediscover some of the best moments of my life and, in the process, gave me a wonderful new memory that will stay with me forever. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Images: http://mydeardiamond.tumblr.com/; http://crunchy-little-human.deviantart.com/art/Childhood-198323794; http://inphotos.org/2006/12/21/an-fear-marbh/; neon-stories.tumblr.com; http://www.bigonbuds.com/category/uncategorized/

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4 responses to “Tracing memories…

  1. Great post thanks. I really enjoyed it very much. You have a great blog here. Thanks again for sharing.

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  2. Sharon,
    I’ve often said that I don’t write sayings, I write captions, simply awaiting some happy illustration that brings them to life. Thanks so much for your engaging use of “I haunt my memories… .” I’ve also said that “What can be composed within a frame can be understood,” and, you, Sharon, have done just that with your composition, as every good writer (or artist) does. I love the simplicity of your prose and the deft way you to step outside of a very personal vignette and make it a universal experience for us all. smiles, rb.

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