I was talking with Pooh tonight about things that trigger certain memories for us - things that you always associate with one particular thing, regardless of how often we experience it.
This trigger for this conversation was pineapple-orange juice. I'd pointed out that we had some, and I couldn't help spilling out that pineapple-orange juice always makes me think of the few childhood moments I had with my dad. On the rare occasions that he came to visit me when I was very young, we always stopped off at the local YMCA (it wasn't a slick fitness center like those of today - at that time it was some rooms upstairs with bunks, and downstairs was a basketball court, diner-style cafeteria and lockers around the walls). Dad used to stay there when he came through town, as the other railroad men did. Anyway, they had little cans of Bluebird pineapple-orange juice in the machines, and I always drank that when I was with him. So that's a memory.
Another big one for me is the smell of cherry pipe tobacco. I don't run into it very often anymore. When's the last time you saw anyone smoking a pipe? But my grandpa - my dad's stepdad - always smoked a pipe with cherry tobacco. I absolutely adored that man. He had a collection of ducks and duck decoys everywhere - very tastefully arranged on mahogany shelves. So cherry tobacco, ducks, and rich, warm mahogany tones are my memory of my grandpa.
Of course, I have a hundred or more different songs that do that to me. No matter how many times I hear them, they will always take me to one particular memory. Some good, some bad, some romantic, some random, some traumatic - but the recall when the songs come on is intense and startlingly complete.
These little things so often overlooked at the time the memory is made become a lifelong link to a long lost moment in time. Isn't it amazing how the mind works?