Staying the Course Down Memory Lane

How do you define “trip memories?” For me, it’s the scenery and the food, strong winds in your face and the long hike up sun-scorched paths drenched in sweat. It’s the experiences and the people you meet along the way.

In remembering times past, you travel to memories from long ago. The sandy beaches of Nishihyojima Island bring back the faces of people I encountered, but not every nook and cranny of the conversation is remembered.

The gears of your mind, having usually been greased by an afternoon beer, bring back faded memories and only the more important lines of conversation. However, for those of us born deaf, there’s a hidden trick to keeping your memory on track.

Because most of my conversations on trips take place on a notepad, the memos have tended to pile up over the course of my travels. Read again, long after the fact, at a quiet moment at dusk, they become a “second trip” on their own. Re-reading these notes after an extended time allows me to relive those faded memories, often times with a fresh perspective and the privilege of hindsight.

Handwriting differs from person to person. Some notes are just three giant words or characters to a page stained with spilt liquor. The notebook is crumpled, pages stick together and there is a distinct smell which brings an even greater sense of realism and memory.

Some will write what they would be too embarrassed to say, and still others open their hearts when a pen is placed in their hand. The “well-oiled” conversations tend to stand out most spectacularly.

I often find myself laughing over something written, whether it’s the day before or five years ago. The contents of these conversations often keep me from sharing them with others—an unfortunate shortcoming of mine.

Writing makes use of words not often found in spoken conversations, because thoughts are given structure in your head and then written down; communication occurs after both “seeing” and “thinking.”

This is a time when those of us who can’t hear share the same world with those who can. Sharing happiness, sadness and laughter at the same time as the person across from you is what the “written word” is all about.

I am writing this column from Banff, Canada. Tonight I think I’ll skip my usual routine of writing in my diary before bed and work on stirring up more of those embarrassing notes.