I don’t remember this place at all
I had an hour to kill this afternoon. I left my car at the mechanic for a twice-yearly tradition of changing the tires, this time from winter to summer ones. Just enough time for a quick walk around a part of my city where I am almost every day — but this time not as a driver just weaving in and out of the traffic, but as a pedestrian. And I know it sounds like a cliché, but really — you can see so much more just by observing while walking.
Right there by the busy intersection, there is a walled-in area of an old (now abandoned) evangelical cemetery. I know it is there, but while driving — I don’t even register its presence anymore, it is just a place I pass on by on my daily commute. I’ve been to this cemetery several times in the past. It is no secret to anyone reading my blog that I LOVE old abandoned places and cemeteries in particular. And I thought I have a good visual memory of this place as well.
But I was wrong. From the first second I got near the gate, I could tell that the vision and memory of this place in my head were way off from what I was seeing there with my eyes. It was bigger than I remembered. There were more gravestones with unusual ornaments and Germanic names like Helmut and Helga and Gertrude and Otto and Ernst and Bertha than I remembered. There was a nook in the wall where I saw this statue from the photo above, which I didn’t recall at all. There were stone steps and a pile of grave plates that I couldn’t place in any way in my memory. It felt like I am visiting this place for the first time in my life.
But no, that was impossible — there were some sights, some angles that aligned with my visual memory quite well. I even remembered that I did take photos there on my previous visits, and after a quick search on the phone I found them. So there is no mistake — I was there before. My mind simply recorded the perceptible details of this place in the wrong way and created a false vision of this cemetery in my memories.
That bothers me quite a bit now. That experience from today tells me that there are more of those memories in my head of the places I’ve seen that don’t reflect reality. Places that I think I remember and can visually evoke in my mind that don’t actually exist in such a way as I see them in my mind. So what it is that I can properly remember and visualize? It feels like a trick my mind plays on me to make me revisit places that I’ve seen and think I remember well — just to check the reality.
In all honesty — I don’t particularly mind.