The Strange Paths of Memory

Memory 2

Today, I was putting dishes away when an old memory surfaced; one that had nothing to do with a kitchen or kitchen utensils, nor was it directly related to me. It was something I had observed when I was in my early teens. It was so strange that I’ve never forgotten.

It happened during a family vacation with my parents and my little sister; I’m not sure if my big brother was with us. We were in Spain where my parents had rented a vacation home for two weeks.

On this particular afternoon, we were in a port town, possibly Valencia, looking for a glass-bottom tour boat of whose existence my parents had heard.

It was a gray day where the winds pushed gray clouds around on the sky. The Mediterranean looked dark green, tumultuous and uninviting. I’m not sure why my parents insisted that we continue this excursion as if the weather was nice and the water still, especially since my mother easily became seasick. (She did get seasick after one glance through the glass bottom of the boat, her face turning as green as the surrounding waves.)

Somehow, this was not the greatest part of town and when we returned to our car after our boating adventure (where I thought more than once that the waves would soon throw us into the water) I observed three people in the street strewn with trash.

First, there were a young couple on a stroll, holding hands, doubtlessly whispering silly and tender words into each other’s ears, stopping every so often for a kiss, laughing. They wore poverty written all over their clothes and the young man looked particularly unkempt, dirty, and in rags, but they appeared to be happy.

Suddenly arrived another woman, possibly the wife or previous girlfriend of the young man, and she wasn’t happy!

A dispute ensued: short and passionate. The young woman with the man stepped closer to him; the other woman’s face contorted in rage.

I was fascinated by the spectacle and kept watching while my father put the car into gear and began driving down the street. I turned my head and saw, through the rear window of the car, how the woman who had arrived last lifted a glass bottle in the air and smashed it on the young man’s head!


He swayed slightly and I saw him laughing in her face while glass shards still tumbled off his hair and shoulders.

This is the picture that stayed in my mind after my dad turned around the next corner and the drama was removed from my view.

Now, about four decades later, I remembered what I saw and wonder…

Why I remember

What made me remember

And also: what might have happened to the three players I’ve observed.

As I said: memory is a strange, strange thing.



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