When I was reading Douglas a bedtime story last night, I was halfway through it (some Pirate Pete book) when I had a sudden and very strong memory of Miss Beth reading to me in the back room in Columbus, in between meetings on Sunday morning. I must have been about 4 or 5, and I can recall the exact tone/cadence/sound of her voice, quietly and evenly reading to me from the collection of Golden Books that were stashed in the back room. She had expression in her voice, though not to the point of giving different characters different voices. There was something amazingly calm, always the same, about her tone. Perhaps it was to help keep me from running around and being loud? I don't think so, I remember loving it and looking forward to it. She was probably about my grandma's age, so in her 60's somewhere.
I'm not sure why reading to D triggered it, perhaps because we were snuggled together on a chair, and I remembered feeling exactly like he seemed to be? My voice? I'm sure it wasn't the recognition of Pirate Pete, as he was most definitely NOT part of the backroom collection, innocuous as they all were. I remember ducks and chicks and so on, cutesie animal stories and the like.
I have another moment I can flash back to at will, and remembered it again the other day when my friend S referred to a technique of fixing certain happy memories deliberately and consciously so they can be recalled when you're stressed. His comment took me back immediately to a point when I was about 14 or so, in a van on the way home from some road trip out west. The van was the kind with bench seats and little armrests at the end. I was on the right side of the car, it was late at night, the windows were open, and it was slightly chilly. The car was barreling down the dark highway, my family silent around me. For some unknown reason I had a sudden and overwhelming joy in knowing exactly who I was, down to the deepest part of my soul. It was an incredibly exultant, intense, and tingling joy that made me grip the armrest of the seat, turn my face into the breeze coming in the window, and feel every atom in my body singing with the electricity of the moment. I remember making a conscious snapshot of the feeling and scene, knowing I never wanted to forget it.
I never have.