Numbers and Letters

When ever it starts raining the sound of the rain drumming on the roof of my flat, which is the top floor, makes me remember camping and the pitter patter of the rain on the tent. It evokes memories that are a hidden away, rarely if ever called to find and probably would be assumed to be lost if it weren’t for this rather random, and picky, plucking of them from the recesses of my brain. The memory I posses isn’t the best – I regularly forget what I am even doing that day, or what I have to pay, who I have to call, or where I am supposed to be, but mostly it’s the dates and relative time that has passed for various events that confuddle my memory.

So, it was with startling shock last night I walked into my room and, with the smell of an air freshener and a rattle of rain on the bedroom window, I was transported quickly and sharply into the past of last Christmas and the sudden feeling that the end of the year was approaching. It of course isn’t but the combination of smell and sound made my other senses reach for the last time they all felt that and the moment was a revelation, almost making me worried that I hadn’t got Christmas presents, that I didn’t know what I was doing for new years, it was a strange moment and for a few seconds my memory was swamped with these recollections.

To snap myself out of it, I drank my green tea. This is a new smell that will obviously remind me of these current times and my thoughts at present. In the future I will drink up a cranberry juice, eat a chocolate brownie and maybe listen to the latest Yeah Yeah Yeahs album again and be transported to the summer of 2009.

The same happens when ever I read a certain book or a do a certain calculation. It might sound crazy to the untrained eye, but every time I use the Universal Gas Constant, 8.314 J/Kmol (Joules, a unit of energy, the pressure-volume product, and per Kelvin per mol) I am reminded of a certain lecturer’s moment in the sun, when we were once in the classroom and he introduced us to this wildly accurate concept – in the background a loud noise exclaimed from the street below and he, rightly, suggested that every time we heard the Universal Gas Constant, we would be reminded of this moment. A rather clever lecturer I think.

And when I sit down to read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy I am reminded of my 3rd year of University. When ever I read any of the 87th Precinct I am happily reminded of my father and I pulling apart the details – I can probably remember the plot to any novel in the series, with the exception of a few. The warmth that I gain from nestling inside a book or film or game or an album that I know inside out, that I have picked apart piece by piece and reassembled so often that I might be able to receipt it by heart, is comfort of the highest degree, and the intrinsic memories these moments conjure and ones that I fear I’ll loose otherwise.