I have recently been in contact with a dear friend that I haven’t seen for five or six years. We’ve been emailing sporadically for a couple of months and I’m looking forward to going hiking or snowshoeing with her soon. Even though I haven’t seen her in a long time, I think of her every time I put a big handful of conditioner on my hair, or when I generously scoop out a big dollop of moisturizer. That’s because way back in the day when we shared an office I was complaining that the hair product I was using wasn’t living up to the hype and over the wall she offered that often products don’t work as advertised because we aren’t using enough. She was 100% right. I used that product happily for the next six years!
I think of this kind of experience as a sweet little bit of memory magic. Sometimes we share a tidbit of wisdom and we have no idea of how it lands or the ongoing effect. It might not even be an intended piece of advice, just a little comment or possibly a word of encouragement.
Another time I was skiing with a friend and she mentioned that a local super athletic type in our fair city had admonished her that it’s important to “ski with your abs”. I use that advice every single time I get on my skis, bike, or feet. I go faster and my legs and arms don’t get as sore.
For me, these little phrases or adages feel like souvenirs. Small verbal trinkets. The first two-thirds of my life were so transient and full of change, I find that these spoken remembrances give me comfort. I don’t have the places to revisit, or even the people from my old lives, but I have these.
There are those people in our lives that have a specific pronunciation of a word and when we hear someone else say it that way, I’m transported back to the company of an old friend. My NM friend pronounces “literally” as “litrahlly”. That always makes me smile.
Every time I hear an announcer say “The BBC NewsHour” I can vividly remember being in the car with my kids and all of us shouting out in unison - Newsarhhhh!!!
I was in my teens when my parents, sister, and I relocated to the northwest, we thought the city name of Tukwilla was hilarious. My dad thought it sounded like a birdcall and he would stretch his neck so you could see the tendons and he’d start calling out “Tuk, tuk, tuk, tukwilla” the mating call for the elusive Tukwilla fowl. Whenever I’m in Washington state and I see a sign for Tukwilla I smile as I recall the cacophony in our old Buick with all of us calling out “Tukwilla, tuk, tuk, tuk, Tukwila!”
When my first born was 18 months old, Amy and her husband came to take care of him for a weekend. They went home with a brand new addition to their family lexicon - “don’t want to”.
Some of these word memories extend beyond my personal experience, but still can make me smile. We are all familiar with President Biden's favorite expressions “malarky” and “come on!”. Whenever those come to mind, I remember attempting to discuss the first Biden/Trump debate with that now 24-year-old, very hungover, first born. He’d played a debate drinking game with friends and told me that it rapidly went from funny to tragic drinking. That may be my only fond memory of the Trump years.
Some folks whole schtick is iconic phrases that they are known for. Amy’s sister-in-law rated a ‘Janet-to-English’ dictionary! It’s full of Janet’s signature lines like Financial Aid for any sort of cash donation, say for beer. Weebles are toddlers. Go-go juice is coffee. And my personal fave: Hangnail (noun) Definition: Something insignificant, can be a poor excuse for not doing something, or something that requires lots of police and fire in a small town as in “Look at all those fire engines! Someone must have a hangnail.” or “He couldn’t go shopping, he had a hangnail.”
I was curious what my own legacy might be with my two adult children, so I texted them this question: “When you think of me, is there one piece of advice that you associate with me? Or one adage?” I know myself well enough to know that I have handed out hundreds of pieces of unsolicited advice to my dears, but I was curious what stuck. Their responses were 1. Always tell the truth and 2. You can be right or you can be happy.
I’m satisfied. I’d go for either of those for my tombstone.
Thank you for joining me on my stroll down Memory Lane. I hope this inspires you to take a minute to think about some of your own verbal recollections. If you come up with a few, please share them on the blog comments or in our social media.
Making memories is what makes our lives worth living. Join us in Costa Rica this May for a whole new take on memory making that is also life changing.