On Memories

Over Thanksgiving, I went on vacation for six days to island of Oahu, Hawaii (“Yes, we KNOW you went to Hawaii by now, Alyssa. I mean REALLY.”) I know, I know... I'm getting there.

Posing in front of Diamond Head Theatre, a cornerstone of my life in Hawaii so many years ago

You all may also recall that I used to live on the same island when I was much, much younger. Just young enough to be impressionable (and in the prime “awkward years” of my life), but also long enough ago that I thought I would have forgotten most of the real details of our living stint in Hawaii

But as it turns out, that wasn’t the case. At least not the way I expected.

For six days we stayed at the Hale Koa in Waikiki, a hotel my family stayed at for nearly a month when my dad was first stationed in Hawaii. Did it look familiar? Yes. Was I shocked at how, despite nearly 15 years, everything looked exactly how I remembered (or didn’t even realize I remembered?) Not really. The pool where my brothers and I had spent many weekends looked the same (we also have a lot of pictures from there, thanks to my mom’s camera craziness). It took a few days for me to learn my way around the hotel. Nothing looked familiar to me about the restaurants we ate at.

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we headed up to Diamond Head to check out a farmers market of sorts that Mike’s mom was fond of. Diamond Head! I spent almost all of my extracurricular time as a kid in Hawaii in and/or around Diamond Head Theatre-- I was part of a performing group that practiced near there, and frequently was in plays and musicals the theatre put on. It was a huge memory-hub for me, but I only really could envision bits and pieces from my experiences. As we neared the market, I kept my eyes peeled for the theatre and our practice facility… until boom, there it was! The white building that I spent four hours in almost every Sunday, singing and shuffle-ball-changing away. I had really forgotten what it looked like (in detail), but there it was, looking as familiar as if I was there yesterday.

The real kicker came on Sunday, when I proposed to the whole group that we go to mass at my old elementary school, Holy Family Catholic Academy. They acquiesced, and on Sunday morning we found ourselves at Holy Family Catholic Church: the church I attended mass at every Sunday, the church I had cheer-leading try-outs in, the church I performed in countless talent shows at, the church I addressed my entire class at for our eighth grade graduation, among so many other things. It was overwhelming. But it was wonderful. Church, for me, has always been so closely tied with family life. And to find myself in the same church, nearly 15 years from the last time I had been there with my own family, sitting next to Mike and his family-- it brought me to tears. (Happy tears! But tears nonetheless). I was over the moon with nostalgia, love and gratitude.

Holy Family Catholic Academy, looking exactly the same as I remember it from 2003 :)
The site of so many (awkward) middle school dances!

Life works in mysterious ways, and (apparently) so does the way we make memories. I don’t think it’s something we can control, at least not 100%. But for whatever reason, certain aspects of our lives “stick” more than others, and they’re not always what we think they’ll be. So be grateful for the moments that you have in the moment. It may never be that clear to you again.

...And that's all I have say about that? Have you ever had a jarring (or not as jarring as you anticipated) experience with memory? Please share in the comments!