Isn’t it something how a smell, a word, an image can trigger the memory?
In the supermarket today, a woman spoke to her companion about the great discount on tomatoes. The voice sounded familiar, and I turned. It was a neighbor from when we were newlyweds! A widow now, somewhat stooped, she still remembers me via my carrot cake recipe, among other things. Her daughter, childhood long gone, shows me her little girl’s picture on her cellphone. Having attended a children’s Bible club in our home for a while (over 35 years ago), she tells me, “I still remember that song we learnt!” The lyrics in Spanish speak of “three little words that I’ve learned by memory: God is love”.
It is amazing to me that the timber of someone’s voice can remain in the memory so long. And it warms the heart that my cooking is still remembered. But how much more special it is that a simple but essential message is still in those neurons after decades!
My prayer is that they may be more than a memory.
Growing up in Honduras, little by little I began to understand how the world I lived in classified people. I was pigeon-holed as a “gringa”, much as that technically means an American and I am Canadian. I recall walking to school and having someone yell “Gringa!” at me, and wanting to shout back: “I was born here; did you know that?” Even after four decades in Mexico, I realize that my skin color and features still scream “foreigner”, and even after long years of being nationalized, I am usually considered an outsider. Whenever I meet someone new, or even take a taxi, within minutes I am usually asked, “Where are you from?” or “How long have you lived here?” If the person is fairly young, I sometimes reply to the latter, “Longer than you!” (To be truthful, my accent is a giveaway too.)
In California, during a recent visit, some Latinos were trying to take turns to get a family picture with the Hollywood letters in the background. I offered to be their photographer, and they expressed their admiration for how well I spoke Spanish. I just told them I have lived for years in Mexico. Unfortunately, my accent isn’t as “native” as one would expect it to be, however, and even on the phone I’ve been asked, “Where are you from?”
“I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Deserve to be Inspired. Hosted by Positive Writer.” http://positivewriter.com/writing-contest-you-deserve-to-be-inspired/
When people would ask me what kind of things I liked to write, I’d tell them, “A variety of things, but not fiction! That’s not my bag”, or words to the effect.
That was until I decided to attend a writer’s workshop in another city. Lo and behold, one of the speakers was a writer of novels, and one of our tasks was to write a short story. I wanted to hide my head in the sand and somehow get out of it. No excuses convinced our teacher, who reminded me that fiction is, basically, based on real life. That relieved me. No excess of fantastic details required, no impossible plot.