Geographical memory

May 2nd

The Old Town in Vilnius

I slept really badly last night. It was a short and furtive sleep, speckled with nightmares. And I am the only one to blame for this, simply put I let myself be overtired. Over the last three days, I walked almost 80 kilometers. I enjoyed every one of them, but my body cannot take this exhaustion anymore — I was simply hurting all over. The weather in the morning was cold and foggy, my Bolt driver was surly and drove like a maniac. The train was delayed. I mean, it just stopped outside Vilnius for 30 minutes and the only explanation I got was that “we will be moving soon”. Then a lady at the luggage storage couldn’t get the terminal to work. Then I followed people leaving the station and walked for 10 minutes in the wrong direction before I realized and doubled back.

The Choral Synagogue in Vilnius

Boy, I was pissed and mad at everyone and everything, and at me in particular.

Vilnius Castle

But then, suddenly, a smile started creeping back on my face. I came to Vilnius for a day of sightseeing and as I was walking I realized that I recognized the street layout and landmarks, and buildings. And I haven’t been to Vilnius in 7 years! Again, it became very clear to me that there is something in my brain that registers the view and blueprint of any place I visit and creates a mental map that can be recalled as soon as I am back in that particular place.

The Old Town in Vilnius

I was walking toward ‘The Gate of Dawn’ — the medieval gate that leads to Vilnius’s Old Town — and I could place myself within the geographical space of a maze of small and winding streets that make the old town in Vilnius so charming. That place is so beautiful, a tourist trap for sure, but oh such a beautiful trap. I only had limited time there before going back home, so I had to be careful about my walk. I had a list of places and sights that I wanted to see again and my feet were perfectly directed everywhere by an embedded memory of this place. I didn’t have to check for directions or search for anything. Even 7 years after the previous visit, I knew where I was in the cobblestone labyrinth of Vilnius’ old town.

The Old Town in Vilnius

I am pretty happy with the way my brain works in this way, recording geographical and landmark features of a place even on a single visit. I am even more glad of the fact how easy it is for my brain to recall this information as soon as I step back into that place. And it seems that even as I get older, that feature of my mind stays as strong as ever.

The Old Town in Vilnius
The Old Town in Vilnius
The Old Town in Vilnius

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footsteps of the Furies

footsteps of the Furies

“for they knew what sort of noise it was; they recognize, by now, the footsteps of the Furies”. Enjoying life on the road to recovery. Observing and writing.