I remember it well…

November 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

I was standing in the cafeteria at my work, stirring some sugar into my coffee, as I do every morning. I was casually glancing around as I worked on stirring those sugar crystals into coffee oblivion, when my eyes fell on a basket by the cash register. Normally, this basket is filled with a variety of goodies meant to entice the junk food devil on your right shoulder, but today it was a sea of monochrome green Miss Vickie’s jalapeño chips. The junk food devil on my right shoulder, let’s call him Bocephus, whispered into my ear: “Wouldn’t you like a bag for the road? And perhaps one to accompany your healthy lunch? And another for an afternoon snack? I wonder if they’d give a discount if you bought the entire basket…” Before I could tell Bo to shut up, I was transported back in time, to a memory I hadn’t thought of in nearly as many years that had passed since it occurred.

It was 1999. I was in cegep. It was winter, because I remember it being dark out, and I never had classes past 5:30pm. A friend of mine, a boy, was hanging out with me as I sat doing my math homework. I left him there to get a snack, and discovered a new flavour of Miss Vickie’s chips at the vending machine: jalapeño. I got back to the table we were occupying and offered him some of my discovery. He took some and told me how jalapeño chips reminded him of his mom, because she would make them at home. I thought that was pretty cool, as I had no idea someone could think of jalapeño as a chip flavour (I wasn’t so… whatever the equivalent of worldly is in foodie circles). And then I remembered how that same friend had paid me to write an assignment for him (where I had the opportunity to read what would become one of my favorite books – Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto). And how we had gotten into an argument on the bus over a comment he had made that, at the time, I took offense to, but I can now see was openly flirtatious (I wasn’t so… whatever the equivalent of perceptive is in normal circles). It was like jumping from one memory lily pad to the next in a matter of seconds.

I came back to reality, unscathed by my time travel, not even a minute after having been transported back. Those sugar crystals were dissolved, but everything else was the same. As I walked back to my desk, I wondered how powerful associative memory can be. Oftentimes, a scent will trigger a specific person, a specific moment in time. Other times, a song, a place, a car, and in the case of deja vu, a “je ne sais quoi.” It amazed me the specific details that came to mind at the mere sight of a bag of Miss Vicki’s jalapeño chips. The amazing thing was that they are always around. It’s not like it was the first time I had seen them in the last 11 years. I had indulged in a bag just last week. But this morning was the first time I thought of that friend, that boy. I think the last time I had spoken to or thought of him was easily 8 years ago. What about this instance of Miss Vicki’s jalapeño chips bag sighting triggered the memory of him? I don’t know. But it was fun to reminisce. I wonder what he’s up to today…

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