i once made a Georgia peach pie with a cinnamon lattice crust and served it alongside home-spun brown sugar ice cream. But I cant recall with whom I’d enjoyed such a summer pleasure. And that’s when my obsessions made perfect sense. My memories were, sometimes are, about the food, not the people.
Other times, magical memory moments, are all about the connection, a look, a squeezed knee under a table at an Italian restaurant. The restaurant name escapes you, but you remember the exact table and then something vaguely about salmon. But you can’t recall if it was that you were at a carb palace of a restaurant, and you thought to yourself I should order the salmon. I should order the salmon. Or, if maybe you’d said aloud to this could-be soul-mate across from you that there’s no way you’re ordering the salmon. Maybe you caught a sliver of conversation from an older woman, a woman who wears skirt suits to dinner, and you remarked to your date that this was exactly the place you’d thought it would be, that no matter where you go in New York, no matter how luxurious the food palate offered, there will always be someone asking for dry salmon, no oil, lemon on the side.
My memory for food is remarkable to me. The way some people can be standing across the world, in a tony town they’d read about all their life, saved for, seen in photographs, and now there, in the mix of smells and sounds, a feast of look at this, did you see that, they’ll suddenly smell The Catskills. “Oh my God, I smell camp.” And memories of not wanting to touch the bottom of the lake with his bare feet are unavoidable. You’re re-planted in familiar soil, no matter how foreign you get.
People say that relationships work this way. That there will be familiar strains and patterns, no matter how foreign this new type of person you’re with is, you take yourself with you everywhere. So, unless you change, nothing really will. I’m just not one of the people saying this.
The fact that I associate a magical snow day, stowed away in a dark bar, playing Connect Four with drinking Shiraz will never change. We can’t control what we remember, only what we choose to make of those shiraz-tinted memories. I think I hold them just a little too close, idealize a then, because it’s easier than pushing myself to find the magical moments worth capturing now. That, or I just need to eat at better restaurants.