Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Another Place, Another Time

I was fine. I was fine until I watched that show "An Idiot Abroad" and found the Egypt episode. The call to prayer, even though my ears were immune to it by the time I left, felt nostalgic as it blared through the TV. I was fine until I recognized streets and buildings, concepts and cultures. I was fine until I found myself correcting the televised merchant as he said "welcome to Egypt". "No, it's welcome FROM Egypt... silly TV..." My heart began to ache.

With that, everything shifted. I made hot chocolate and longed for my special iced hot chocolate, a drink developed solely for me by my local Cafe Grecco. I heard traffic outside my window and for a second it sounded like the overpass by my flat in Cairo, missing only the obsessive horn honking. I heard a man outside our window yelling and for a moment didn't understand him because my ears expected to hear Arabic.

I have experienced this phenomenon before. When it is really hot out and the right flowers are blooming I am back in Ecuador. When I smell eucalyptus trees and concrete I am in Peru. Incense is Egypt. Crisp ocean air is Uruguay.

Studies have shown that smell is one of the most potent tools for memory. It triggers places and people and worlds better than any other one of our senses. As a TCK my world is made up of many worlds. Each one has its own smell, feeling, sounds, ideas. It's why in college when ash was falling from the sky I felt a surge of comfort. It's why the sounds of riots and tear gas feel like an old friend. It's why trash baking in the sun, or the presence of a "pee wall" don't make me grimace but grin. My many worlds contain many things, and even the gross or dangerous parts seep into my soul and become a part of me. They edge in on my soul in the strangest moments and they remind me that I am a person between worlds, adding more worlds to my own the longer I live and the more I love.
So I was fine. I still am.

Where do your worlds pop up?

1 comment:

  1. So well said, Maia! Many times I have been catapulted back to another world by a simple smell. And my heart longs to return . . .