Unlike a friend who claims she remembers looking up into her mother’s face from a baby carriage, my memories before seven or eight years of age are limited perhaps to memories of actual photographs, a kind of faux-memory composite, which has formed my surrogate cache of childhood treasures. But every so often, as if on the predilection of the wind, or a serendipitous confluence of the senses, I enjoy a full course, tangy memory from my childhood. Such was the case today.
Nearing the end of the most mundane of human activities – shopping for the cannot-do-withouts, while unloading the bulk sale from our wagon, I was plunged into my boyhood, body and soul, if only for an instant. What, my reader may ask, possessed the power to ferry me across the trackless sea to the land of fading apparitions? I laid eyes on a marble.
But the hopscotch time jump did not happen merely through my gaze, into which the sun sparkled from the glorious ball of glass with its embedded spiral ribbon of colours, but by feeling the heat radiating from the ground, smelling the sunlit mix of sand and dirt in which the errant marble lay, and answering its pixie invitation to pluck it up, roll it it in my fingers, and then snap it toward a hastily formed pot hole the size of an English teacup.
I can only classify the recollection as a full sensory memory, and what was more amazing was its effect. Call me loopy, but the immersive experience restored something to me, struck through the sedimentary layers of time-compressed dust that has quietly congealed into a solemn adult. Through the crack flooded a ray of sunlight, not of today but a younger sun of yesteryear, and the sense of living utterly in the moment, rapt in the joy of the game, and the magic of a marble.