Isolation and Sensory Memory

We have been strictly socially isolated for a bit more than three months. We leave the house to run in the park, choosing isolated places and even there we take and wear our masks. I shop for groceries every five or six weeks. We live constrained lives spending most of our time in the same few areas. My life seems comprised of blues and grays with the occasional red lightning of anxiety mixed in.

But through this something amazing has happened. I’m falling into sensory memories, remembering sensual details of events long past. I’ll be reading a book that mentions a club I visited in New York City and suddenly I’m there. I can smell the warm bodies, the smoke, the old beer, the slight smell of urine and mildew. I can feel my high heels crunching on the sawdust and hear the nervous chatter of the patrons. I can see it as vividly as if I were standing right there. Then it is gone, an evanescent memory delivered in perfect sensory detail.

I might be thinking about Steve and our early relationship and then suddenly I’m back in Denver lying on the prickly grass in the park north of East High, the lovely fragrance of Steve and books and sun-warmed grass rising around me as the cars go by and the distant bells remind us that we are stealing time away from class. I can still feel my heart pounding happily as it did while we planned our gaming and our lives.

I don’t know why the universe is giving me these little perfect gifts of sensory visions. Perhaps the isolation has gone on long enough that I’ve had time to clear away the impediments to perfect visions. Perhaps my brain is simply bored without new experiences and people and is amusing itself however it can. I’ve heard of similar things happening in long meditation retreats.

Whatever it is, I’m grateful that I’m here to experience it and to allow it to improve my writing. It is not a substitute for an full-on sensual life, but it is what I have and more than I expected. It’s lagniappe.

I hope the universe is giving you unexpected gifts, too. Be well, friends!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I get that too! I realise that my morning journals have been filled with posts such as “I’m recalling that trip I had, and the people on the boat…”

    Glad to know I’m not alone. Maybe this is why some people retreat from life for months at a time.

    1. It could be. Certainly it is helpful from a writerly point of view. Nice to hear from someone else who experiences this.

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