This morning, I traveled across town to meet a friend. I ended up with a few minutes to spare, so I stopped in to a Home Depot near her house to peek at the stock in the nursery (starting to get excited about planting again!).
I was over in the area where I used to live and now only visit infrequently. For years, I dreaded traveling back there as every landmark was full of memories like an overripe fruit, sweet bordering on putrid.
But the last couple years, it’s been okay. I can drive the road by my old house and not tense up. I can enter stores and restaurants and not be pulled back to the past.
So today, I walked into Home Depot with no thoughts of the past and no fear or anticipation of memories.
Which perhaps is why it hit me so hard.
I was memory slammed when my back was turned.
I entered in through the nursery, greeted the few shrubs on display, and then crossed the store to visit the restroom. It was as though the bathroom stall was a time machine. As I exited the room and rounded the corner of the hall, I was immediately pulled back to a time about 6 years ago when I left that same bathroom to join my then-husband in line at the register. For a few dozen steps, I was in the past. I was fully expecting to walk up on my then-husband, perhaps slip an arm around his hips, and talk through our plans for the afternoon. It was only when an employee asked if I needed assistance, that I snapped back into the present moment.
It wasn’t painful. It wasn’t like a trigger, initiating an avalanche of memories. It was just odd, jarring, like that transition from one temperature extreme to another that takes your breath away as you adjust. The memory faded as quickly as it came, leaving me more bemused than upset. After all, it’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a memory.
And now I’m off to a different Home Depot with my now-husband to pick up supplies to put the finishing touches on the theater. And I’ll be happy to slip my arm around him while we wait in line. No time machine needed.