Pipelines to the Past

Today, I decided to get out of my bedroom and bring my reading to the living room. It was often empty now since mom decided to live away where she held her small business, save for Uncle Dave, our dog, that constantly lurked around the dark and dead space we called the living room in our modest lair. I sat down the old armchair made of wood that was withered and tarnished all these long years – it belonged to a living room set of 3 (one long sofa, 2 side armchairs) a really simply put-together piece of furniture, (not very strikingly beautiful by any standard) my mother invested from the money my father sent from overseas shortly before she gave birth to me. The seat felt small and it was not until I opened my book that it lingered on me that I was sitting on the armchair we had for more than 26 years, a sudden gush of different emotions flooded me. I did not understand many of them – were they sad or happy emotions – but they made me stop and evaluate what I was feeling for a quick instant. I’ve read somewhere that it is both a blessing and curse to feel everything so deeply and it always interested me how something as inanimate as an armchair can conjure so many distant memories.

I felt a rapid surge of energy, like electricity; things have happened on this armchair and the whole living room set played in front of me. It was a blur but a very vivid one; like I had a time travel to many points of my life, not seeing every flashback in very clear details, but feeling these pointy spikes in the insides of my chest. I touch the surface of the armchair and I saw the 6-year old me, sitting on the floor, arms laying lazily on top of a big color book when I was in the process of discovering my love for colors and art. Instantly after,  I had a glimpse of the 11-year old me sitting down on it on a stormy evening, sleeping in front of an abandoned TV after waiting all night for my mother who was coming back from the public market selling eggs to make ends meet.

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Many other pictures entered my head, making me terribly nostalgic of when my high school friends and I used to watch video tapes we borrowed from a nearby video shop after school. I saw at one quick instant my grandfather in 2005, laying at the sofa, sickly and dying, and suddenly, I woke up from a sleep, one night, upon the sound of my mother’s restrained weeping as she laid on the sofa a few days after my grandfather’s burial. I was young then and knew nothing about comforting a suffering person so I went back to sleep and cried for my mother’s grief in my sleep. A sound from somewhere outside the house snapped me out of the daydream. I opened my eyes and felt my hands tightly clasping on the right arm rest. This time I closed my eyes in the hopes of seeing more memories. I saw my cousin, his wife and 2 children sharing the sofa as their solitary resting place when they got kicked out of the house they used to rent when my he got laid off his contractual job and had to live with us – they were happy in spite of their poverty and their future’s uncertainty. So many layers of short figments frenzied in my head. It overwhelmed me to some extent and I had to will myself to stop. It was powerful.

It amazes me that some magical connection seems to bind us and objects we grow up with that stirs some deep memories we thought we lost. It can oftentimes be triggered by the simple sight or touch of these objects, and sometimes, they are these the last things we expect us to have a heavy emotional attachment with – a wash basin, or a broomstick, a rusting kettle, or in my case, an armchair and a sofa set. I like to think of these objects as a pipeline to our past, or perhaps a conductor of energy that, if touched, it instantly transfers to us such queer sensation of being catapulted to the yesteryear of our lives. In my case, it always happens instantly and when it does, I savor each moment of that “time travel” and I feel thankful to somewhat experience these memories all over again. I think memories, good or bad, are fragile, precious gifts we should keep attached to these objects, like a part of us is literally embedded in them and we can always go back to find them.

What objects do you feel that magical connection with? What objects have you time-traveled through? What memories do they stir up? Please feel free to share.



3 thoughts on “Pipelines to the Past

  1. Yes, I have a few well-loved objects that have traveled through time with me, and always, always, they evoke memories…of people, mostly, but sometimes places…and in particular, a 200-year-old oak table with a series of names scrawled on the underside of the table top. Were these the people who owned the table? Put the dents and scratches in it, and loved its sturdy, oaken solidity? I can get lost in a reverie just looking at the table 🙂

    Lovely post, thanks.


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