It’s funny how the brain, out of its need for order and structure, compartmentalizes our lives. You can spend five weeks in a place, working, sleeping, socializing, and otherwise maintaining the semblance of a normal life, then the second you leave that place, it all disappears into the ether. One minute you’re on a plane and still in that sort of “limbo” between lives; and then as soon as you step off the plane, everything that came before feels like it was in another life, almost as though it never really happened.
Even now, as I sort through the thousands of photos left in the wake of my trip, it feels like it all happened to somebody else. Like I wasn’t really there, even though not four days ago I was elbowing my way through the chaotic Greenhills tiangge. What’s funny is that even though it feels like it all happened in another life, I still find myself coming back to the memories of the trip time and again.
Ironically, it’s always the “least memorable” events that I come back to; the simple, unassuming memories rather than the big momentous ones. Driving through Zamboanga on the way to my uncle’s farm from the airport, wandering the streets of Vigan, playing with random pigs in Ilaya. As much as the bigger memories have their own reserved spots in the back of my head, it’s the smaller ones I keep coming back to.
Though I suppose that’s how it tends to go. Whenever I think back to periods of my life, it’s always smaller memories that come to mind. I think back to the year I lived in Tampa, and one of the clearest memories is of my nighttime drives home from work, windows down and classic rock playing on the radio of my beat-up Buick Skylark as I hung my arm out the window, balmy gulf breeze blowing through the car. I reminisce about my time in D.C., and my mind often goes back to nights spend on the back porch with my friends, smoking and talking well into the wee hours of morning. And I daydream about my time in Zamboanga, and the thing to first come to mind is driving through the towns, passing the comically large chicken building of Manukan.
Makes sense, in a way. Life, after all, isn’t made up solely of big moments. The big moments are just the landmarks, the keystones; it’s the little moments that keep them all connected. Of course, not all little moments are worth remembering. I don’t think I’ve ever reminisced about sitting in my cubicle at work, or of getting a check-up at the dentist. But lying in a hammock on the beach as the waves gently lap against the sand? That’s a memory I’ll be holding onto for a while.