Monday at the bike shop, we had Mozart’s Sonata No.11 in A Major playing for the majority of the day. This is not unusual, as we always play classical music there, except for Saturdays when it becomes a mix of indie/folk and we realize once again that songs with lyrics are also enjoyable. After work, I had some errands to do, the most unfortunate of which was a haircut – the stylist understood I wanted the same style, just a little shorter, but then proceeded to give me a mullet – but I digress. While out and about getting things done, I continued to hear snippets of Sonata No. 11. I heard faint piano sequences in the grocery store, the parkade, the elevator, and even at home, as if my upstairs neighbours were listening to it. It was oddly comforting, like a personal soundtrack following me around.
I’ve had this happen before where the classical song of the day gets so ingrained in my head that I hear echoes of it hours after I’ve cashed out and closed shop. Perhaps this is the power of classical music, and there really is something to the whole Baby Mozart movement of exposing infants to classical music after all. Maybe classical music really does stimulate neural pathways to a greater degree than other types of music, and if that’s the case, I should play it while I’m sleeping too. I don’t know the science behind this phenomenon, but it seems similar to the afterimages you see after staring at an image, or the colourful bursts you see after looking at the sun – visual echoes, if you will.
Tuesday I made a spontaneous trip over to my parents’ place in Duncan, on Vancouver Island, for my brother’s birthday. Actually, I arranged to have the day off about a week earlier, but still, that’s spontaneous for me. Anyway, a friend and I took a late-morning ferry over so we could hang out in Victoria for a while, and it was during this time that I began to experience afterthoughts, mental echoes triggered by the familiar surroundings. You see, once we could afford to do so, Anya and I moved from a basement suite in Langley to Victoria, and it was there where we first carved out a life together. Some might say these afterthoughts were simply memories, and maybe they were, but it felt more intense, as if a smoldering thought pattern had suddenly lit up again.
I didn’t expect it to be, but as I told my friend that afternoon, my inaugural return to Victoria was an emotional one. On the one hand, it was really fun to drive around my old stomping grounds, see some old friends, and eat at one of my favourite haunts (Blue Fox on Fort Street never fails!). On the other hand, literally every memory I have of Victoria includes Anya, for in that epoch we did everything together. This may have been because I was too insecure to make friends on my own, or because we relied on each other too much, but it could just as easily have been because we were each the other’s favourite person to hang out with, and that we were each undeniably hilarious.
Driving around Tuesday afternoon, I had to fight to keep my composure, and I’m fighting the same battle here in Starbucks writing about it now. Fortunately for me (and everyone else here working on their laptops), I can control these afterthoughts better than the afterechoes of Mozart that ring through my mind. In a coldly efficient manner, I simply don’t allow my mind to go to that place. I perfected this skill years ago while coming to terms with my brain damage. At the time, fond memories of my pre-accident life threatened to rupture the fragile, brain-damaged life I had delicately pieced together, and to dwell on these mental vestiges was a painful and potentially dangerous move, just as staring at the sun will do more than just make colourful spots when you blink. So I turned away and focused on other things, like my recovery. To be sure, I know enough to recognize that this coping method traipses awfully close to denial, but I also know enough to recognize that, for a time, this is the best practice.
When life changes in traumatic and dramatic fashion, memories don’t have to become enemies, and afterthoughts don’t have to become actual afterthoughts. They just need time, some space, and enough consideration to change along with everything else.