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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A Little Memory Test

As I was struggling to sleep last night I began thinking about a place I used to work. I moved on from the generic feelings I get from thinking of my time there (nostalgia, amusement, relief of escape) and tried to picture every little detail of my trip to work.

I used to walk to the bus stop, have a fifteen minute bus journey then perhaps a ten minute walk at the other end. Then I walked into the office. Simple. But I wasn't satisfied. I used this route every day for six months, surely I could recall more detail than that. I was disappointed with myself for not committing to memory every aspect I could. After all, isn't that what writers do - notice the precise detail in everyday things?

So I concentrated for a while (giving myself a headache in the process). What I came up with was this:

I get off the bus. I turn right and walk past another grey bus shelter towards the crossroads. The bus growls past me as I reach the turn. I veer right and begin to cross the bridge across the railway. The pavement rises slightly beneath my feet. Half of it is paved with stones and the rest is tarmacked. As I reach the other side of the railway line there are some derelict brown buildings on my left, of which I can only see the back and upper-levels of. There is an old sign on a white background with blue (possibly green) lettering saying 'CAMPING' and something else to do with outdoor supplies.

I walk further to the next junction. There are traffic lights to the middle of the road I'm on then across to the opposite side of the T-junction. The first set is on a slope. At the second I rarely wait for the signal to cross. I walk across towards a brown wall of chest height then turn right. After a few steps there is an opening to my left with gravelly-type steps leading down to the level of the railway line. I turn down the path towards the next road and cross on the corner between the Irish pub and the car dealership.

This is just a three minute fragment of my walk and I was fairly proud of myself for remembering this level of detail. I left the job over a year ago now and have had very little reason to ponder my route in depth. It seemed to be a useful exercise for me. If I can remember things in such depth then I hope I can create things with equal weight.

I at least like the notion that life isn't passing me by. I've got a thirst for remembering as many tiny details as I can. I want to document them, use them as inspiration later. It's a comfort to know that I can do it - at least with some scenarios.

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