This blue marble

– and yet it spins

Deconstructed memories and the flavor of saudade

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seashellsIreland, California, Cornwall, and Skye. Posing outside of the frame are Kenya and Amazon. One beach per jar. One memory of a distant shore forever locked up behind glass. I wish we could store memories like Dumbledore: pull them out of heads with a magic wand, and store the wispy silver strings just to be able to dive back in at any time.

Yet the memory itself is only half of the experience. What is as important as the actual place and time is the way we felt there. How fleeting and subtle it envelops us while present in the moment, and how strongly it makes itself present when that moment is long gone. Skye in a jar for me is sheep bleating on green grassy hills, and bouldery shores covered in slippery seaweed with treasures of sea glass and shells lodged in-between the stones. It is the soft warmth of a Scottish July on a rare blue-skied day, and the feeling that we are by the edge of the world and it is going to be alright.

The last component of a memory is the nostalgic imprint of what once was. Portuguese has a word for it, too: “saudade”. Saudade is the afterglow of love that remains for something that was and may never come back again.

Perhaps my glass jars cannot store memories. Yet, locked inside is a different flavor of distilled saudade. And it is not necessary to open a jar to let the saudade take a quick spin past my heart.

(Helsinki, Finland; December 2014)

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