Friday, November 18, 2016

Proust invokes the past


Proust invokes the Past 




“Taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remained poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”  ~Marcel Proust 

It’s on the tip of my tongue, both physically, mentally and emotionally.  A taste, a scent, that takes me back. But back to where?  A fleeting memory of time past. So amazing how smells and flavors catch me unaware, make me stop and reflect.  There have been many times over the years, a scent wafts past my nose and I’m taken back to high school, or an old house, a day on the lake, or a moment of grief.

Honeysuckle takes me back to my first home in Texas and sipping on a honeysuckle bush outside a friend’s house.  I can see our block, our neighbors, all long forgotten, pushed a bit further into the background of my conscious with each move. My dad was in the military so there were many moves over the years.  Our house was the gathering spot and I remember long summer days and evenings playing hide-n-seek, doing heads stands on the front lawn and the boy next door teasing me.

Growing up and even up into my 20’s, I couldn’t understand my parents fixation with food when we traveled.  The concern of where and when we were going to stop and eat.  Do we eat to live or live to eat?  It wasn’t until later that I realized it wasn’t the food. It was the place.  Food takes on a different flavor when we equate it with a place, use it as a placeholder for our memories.  A favorite restaurant takes on a new meaning when it isn’t the food we are going for, but the camaraderie and a place to rest, think and talk.

When my mother died, dad insisted on going to one of their favorite restaurants. Little did I know they’d practically adopted the owner and the staff into the family.  Surrounded by love, familiar scents and comfort food, it helped him grieve. 

Favorite foods, recipes of the past, made by mom's or grandma’s, passed on not just because they may tasted good, but because they reminded us of them and of days cooking, puttering around the kitchen, eating and playing games.

I love how Proust poetically and philosophically leads us to the point of memory.  He could have very well said – It’s on the tip of my tongue.  Where’s the beauty in that.

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