Transience of Memories

12:00:00 AM


Follow my blog with Bloglovin I've always had reason to look back on memories and think about how we lose pieces of memories as we move further away from the moment. This lack of permanence, this transient nature of memories, is the reason I wanted to journal when I traveled overseas by myself for the first time, and it's the reason why I want to continue to document my travels. These thoughts have particularly come back into my mind as I near my next trip and as some of my friends from Barcelona head back there, causing memories to resurface with a force.

I recently wrote a post about preserving your travel memories, and I stick by everything I wrote in the post. But as I was flipping through pictures, I realized that while, yes, many of my memories have blurred over time and though many days and experiences experience a time-space warp in my mind, for the most part, I can remember the sights and the feelings I had while there. 

I still picture the sunsets, the beaches, the streets, the plaças, the mountain top views, the Gaudi architecture. I still remember getting lost and trying to find the metro station after taking a long walk with my new friends by the beach, taking the train to Figueres, walking for what felt like forever to get to a famous tapas bar only to find it too crowded for our large group, talking to friends late into the night, playing soccer/futbol on the roof of a sport/rec center and spraining my ankle during the last two minutes, sitting on the terrace laughing and joking and talking and having a great time. And these are the memories most easily preserved. They're the things we can write about and take pictures of.


But there are big pieces that are gaps for me. For me, sound is the first to go. I guess it would be different if I video recorded or vlogged things, but I'm not that kind of person/blogger. I can't remember the sound of the voices of the people I spent the most time with. Even the voice of one of my friends who visited recently. I can't recall their accents, their manners of speech. Sure, we could Skype or Facetime, but I haven't talked to many of the people I hung out with regularly for a while now. 

I've realized that I've sort of idealized all of my experiences in my memory. Everything has become heightened, everyone more wonderful, the sights more beautiful, the moments more special. Because the trip was so special to me as my first time, I believe I've sort of put it on a pedestal. So while I'd love to keep in constant/semi-constant contact with my Barcelona friends/acquaintances, as I refer to them, every traveler knows that there are so many people you meet on the road that you'll probably never see or even talk to again, even if they were a big part of one trip. 

Mis amigos de Barcelona y yo cuando nosotros jugamos futbol
(My Barcelona friends and I when we played football)
The second thing to go is taste. In my mind, I know what I had enjoyed eating or drinking, which places I had deemed especially spectacular. But now it's all become more of a personal fact in my mind. I know I loved the rose cava at La Champaneria, but I can't really recall the true taste of it. I remember loving the taste of churros con chocolate in Barcelona but cannot actually remember what it tasted like, just that I liked it at the time and noted that in my mind/my journal. 

And I know this is all normal, but I was thinking today about how sad this transience and impermanence. At least, it makes me sad. It places this growing distance between where you are now and where you once were. I suppose it's what creates--or at least adds to the cause of--the feeling Brazilians call saudade, loosely translated to a sense of longing/nostalgia for something. 

It's one thing to miss a place, an experience, someone, but to miss being in a moment, in a time important enough to be engrained in your mind and heart, and to know that you cannot ever go back to exactly that and that you can never remember it as you truly, wholeheartedly experienced it, may be one of the biggest and most challenging post-travel experiences/blues I've felt regarding the trip.

I don't really have anything to add on this topic other than my personal musings, but I don't know that I've seen other people talking about the nature of memories, especially in relation to travel and other big moments. Maybe it's because other travel bloggers have traveled so widely and so often that it's not something they dwell on often or often enough to write about. 


I'm simply just nervous when thinking about a special moment, especially when I'm experiencing it in real time, and knowing that this is what is in store for it. Every time I do something with my friends and have a great time, every time I do something new, every time I see someone again, every time my heart swells, I think about it. These snippets of time may become bigger than it truly is as a memory, it may seem even more important in one's mind and heart, but it can never be exactly as amazing as it was in that moment because that is the transient nature of our memories. So it's all the more reason to make every experience as great as we can, as great as we want it to be, and to live in it to the fullest extent...because it will never be as great again.

If you're a traveler, how do you deal with how transient memories are and how quick we are to forget details and moments? Do you worry about it or think about it at all, even?

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