We were in San Diego this past week on a mini-vacation, visiting with some family and taking in the local sites like Sea World and Legoland. My daughter loved hanging out with her cousins, the three of them hand in hand, running through the hotel doing their best Three Musketeers impression.
When it was time to pack up and leave, I was struck by a conversation I had with one of the hotel staff, an older gentleman, from Spain. He asked us where we were from and we all replied in stereo, India.
And then something happened. I was watching his face, the end of his eyes started to smile, his posture seemed a little more relaxed, his words wanting to reflect his sentiment. He tells us that he was in India in 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969. He listed out each year instead of grouping them altogether. He ended our conversation with, “The time I spent in India was the most memorable time in my life.”
And I believed him when he said it. There was a genuine love for whatever happened in those years. It could have been a love affair with a girl or a time when he was young and didn’t have any responsibilities. The point is, I don’t know what happened during those years, but the intensity of his experience was something he felt that he had to convey to four strangers.
This moment happened over three days ago and I still can’t shake his face and statement out of my mind. All of us are making memories, but do we know which ones are going to be the most memorable? I wanted to ask him, did you know while you were in India, that this was going to be the most precious memorable time in your life? I know there isn’t an answer to this question, but I wonder how many of us truly appreciate the memories we are making.
What is the most memorable time in your life? Did you know it as you were making the memory? Have you had a conversation with a random stranger that stayed with you? Did you learn anything from that conversation?
My husband and I often banter back and forth about memories from our childhood and I always ask him: What do you think it is about a moment that keeps it vivid in our mind, while others often fade? I have no answers, but I’m deeply curious about it, mostly because I’d love to have some sense of what will be remembered by my children. I suppose that’s it though right? What’s impactful to us as individuals can’t be understood as a whole because the experiences are so unique to our own perceptions. Okay…I’m getting all existential.
I remember taking a flight home to Malaysia for the first time by myself to see my family during the university’s winter break, and I sat next to a boy who was also in college (not mine), except he was going to Thailand to visit his parents.
We spent the entire first leg of our flight in conversation, and I felt completely comfortable talking to him, like we’ve known each other for years. And we also spent our six-hour layover in Seoul together – parting was bittersweet because although we felt a strong connection, we lived in different states and were in completely different points of our lives, so while we exchanged details, we knew we would never see or talk to each other again. And we were right.
However, I still remember his face and occasionally, I wonder about him. It’s not the most memorable thing that’s ever happened, but it’s one that surprises me, how I still remember the details like it was yesterday. And why of all the connections I’ve made in the past, this one with a random stranger continues to make me smile.
I’ve deleted my comment several times… I know what I’m trying to say, but can’t get it out (could have something to do with having 4 kids under the age of 4 in the house this morning – 2 of them are not mine! I’m playing referee a lot today…). But I also think this post really stirred something in me and I can’t wrap up my thoughts in any reasonable, succinct manner!
I have been aware before that I was making a lasting memory, but I’m hard pressed to pick the most memorable time of my life. There are many – pieces of childhood, college, early marriage and travels, a couple seasons of loss. All memorable for different reasons, and all times when I knew I was living through something important.
Now I find myself constantly hoping & praying that I can lock down moments, especially these days with my children. I want to memorize the feeling of rocking a sleeping child.
Lovely post. I really like the imagery of the man’s face as he was transported back to India.
Oh! I just so want to be able to go and ask that wonderful gentleman why those four years in India were the most memorable in his life. I can’t help but feel there is a magical story there to be told.
It is interesting how sometimes you know something you are about to do will be so very memorable and yet at others something unexpected will happen or something ordinary somehow becomes so very extraordinary. I could not pick one moment or period in my life but know there are many favorite memorable times.
I believe that certain people have been placed in my path for a reason. People who have guided me, based on one story they shared, in a direction that I needed to go. I cannot think of one specific story but I do know that I have quite a few memories similar to this one that you have shared.
The most memorable time in my life thus far is when my husband (then boyfriend) and I backpacked through Europe for two months. There are some smells, tastes, phrases, songs that take me right back there. I knew at the time we were doing something big, but I don’t think I realized how much it would shape my future self.
And I’m hoping that these child-rearing years will turn out to be memorable, too, once I step through this permanent sleep-deprived fog. =>
Of course, I’ll always remember the birth of my children and when I met my husband but I think that what we believe we’ll remember later isn’t what usually ends up making the biggest impact. It’s what happens when we aren’t trying too hard, I find.
I am so glad you got out of the heat and visited San Diego. I have a great memory of Sea World. Took the kids and loved the park. Usually I’m not the amusement park kind of gal but it was so clean and easy to get around.
I want to visit India. One day perhap. One day.
I’ve read how current brain research has shown that each time we retrieve a memory we alter it. We literally shape our memories every time we access them. So as the years go by our memories become not only rememberances of events or people from our past but the thoughts and beliefs we layer, through the years, upon those rememberances. Maybe that older gentleman from Spain had years of remembering those times in India and the remembering itself was like the polishing of fine silver.
I have so many in my head. I think one of my favorite memories is driving from Missouri to North Carolina to drop me off for my freshman year of college. I remember driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains, the leaves turning in early autumn, with those butterflies in my stomach. I’ve always connected with those mountains. They stick with me.
What a lovely exchange you had with this gentleman! I have some of the most wonderful conversations with total strangers!
What a great story. That is so interesting to think about.