We all have those memories that we keep safely locked away until triggered open by another memory triggered by another memory triggered by another and so on. Some of these memories are locked away tightly for good reason, but then . . . something . . . picks the lock and opens the door, and the memories seep out.
This morning I walked to work. I don’t usually, but my roommate (who drives) is on vacation. And like a completely sane person, I talked to myself out loud in a British accent. Can you tell I miss London? I told myself how much I loved the umbrella tree by the library. It always looks happy as it hugs the ground. I was telling myself how much I will miss walking by that tree every day when I realized that I wasn’t alone on the sidewalk. And there, walking beside me, was a person who leaves butterflies in my stomach.
This teeny moment in my morning triggered a fourth-grade memory, back when cooties were just becoming a psychological reality. I had a teacher whom I will call Miss Muffet. She never smiled. She always spoke sharply. She had favorites, and I was not one. She tended to favor the quiet goody-goody girls or the naughty boys. I was somewhere in the middle. One time Miss Muffet tied Jacob’s shoes together while he was sleeping during class, but everyone knew that she played the joke on him because she favored him. Once she gave each of her students a packet of smarties before going out to recess, but she gave Bonni two packets. We all knew that Bonni got two because she was a favorite.
At the end of my fourth-grade year, we had a class party. Charades was the game of the day. Miss Muffet told me that I was going to act out being her. Never before had I been so nervous. I successfully avoided being asked any questions for almost the entire time limit. With just thirty seconds to go, a classmate asked me (as Miss Muffet), “What is your favorite color?”
I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know what Miss Muffet’s favorite color was. But I had to answer, and I had to answer quickly. I blurted out the first response that came to my head: “How dare you ask me what my favorite color is? You should know by now that my favorite color is purple! Honestly.”
To this day I am filled with embarrassment that my teacher discovered what I thought of her and her mood swings, especially in light of the fact that she asked me to sing at her funeral a few years later.
Memory is strange and beautiful. It’s something you never quite let go of, yet you learn to put behind you and move on from. Memories, I’d say, are made of pepper, piloncillo, and cinnamon.
Tomorrow is my last day of my first grownup job. So many memories have been made. I’m sitting at my work desk, staring at my work computer, in utter awe that these people I work with have become friends that I look forward to seeing every day. I will never forget trying to have a conversation with Kelly while Grace tried to work between us. I will never forget Grace eating the Korean spicy chocolate. I will never forget spying on “Aristotle” eating yogurt before noon and buying ginger ale from the sketchy Dollar General. I will never forget plotting Grace’s baby shower or the talks about truck driving with Jill.
I will never forget, but I’m ready to make some new memories. Bring on insanity!