Watching the Wheels
What makes one moment more memorable than another? Often, it is the feelings associated with an event or an experience that make the memory of it stronger, stay in our minds, for good and bad.
I have strong memories of the night we put our dog down. The images are burned in my brain and though they are relatively recent (a year and a half), I don’t imagine them fading away.
I also remember happier moments-getting off the airplane after my mission and hearing my family waiting for me at the end of the exit gate. I still hear their voices, the way they echo down the ramp, hearing words before I see their faces.
I remember a great deal about the day I married Sheryl. Most of that is too personal to share here, but I remember smells, the heat of the sun as we walked around taking pictures, the taste of the Dominos pizza we had delivered later that night.
Occasionally, I catch memories that I was certain I would never forget, yet have let slip and slide. Where I was when my parents announced their intention to divorce. My high school and college graduations.
What surprises me are the memories of moments where I did absolutely nothing.
One afternoon when I was living in Claremont, New Hampshire, I spent an entire afternoon, five or six hours, just sitting in an old, disgustingly dirty (yet oh, so comfortable) orange chair, fabric worn through on the arms and near the head rest. Padding yellowed with age, poked out in spots, often getting stuck on the blended fabric of my suit pants. This particular day, for some reason I forget, I had ample time to kill and a beautiful winter afternoon within which to kill it. I put on some large black sweat pants and a worn t-shirt, pulled out photos of friends from home and sat down. The other missionary I was living with was taking a “short” nap. I looked at the photos, then out the window. The sun was already arching towards setting and a brilliant pale yellow light was dancing off run down houses across the street, painting them beautiful for the first time. I could hear Elder Thomas sleep breathing in the other room, too loud hum of the ancient refrigerator, water slipping through the radiator to my right, along with the occasional passing car. It was the first time I found myself really starting to love New England, New Hampshire and Claremont in particular.
I watched as a squirrel wander back and forth along telephone wires, crossing the street in safety, carrying random objects to and from its home. As the sky darkened and evening came, the view altered. My reflection started to dominate my view. I turned off the light and sat in the darkness, once again able to see the street outside. Headlights of cars were intrusive. I could catch glimpses of people in their houses, moving from kitchens to bedrooms, setting tables, watching television. Tiny windows, like picture frames, telling stories. I understood so little of it, knew none of them. Reveled in the sensation, the pure voyeuristic thrill of it all. One of the best days of my life to that point and I really did absolutely nothing.