memory archive — day 48

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The item I am discarding today is deeply connected to my trip of a lifetime. I believe most people have had at least one travel experience in their life that they would call formative. In my case it was two months backpacking through Thailand with my girlfriends – a memorable experience none of us will ever forget, not necessarily for the right reasons. We went straight after graduating from high school. We were 18 years old, the first time far away from home, without any real itinerary and for a period of time that felt endless to us back then. The experiences that have stuck most are not the beautiful beaches and snorkelling spots that we discovered though but rather the somewhat sticky situations we managed to get us into repeatedly (I decided it would be wiser not to go into detail here).

Fully embracing the South-East Asian backpacking spirit, we thought it would be appropriate to walk around in sarongs for most of the two months. It was also in Thailand that we came across tiger balm for the first time. We loved the red version which smelt of cinnamon and had the (most likely) unique idea to rub it on our necks as some sort of perfume (Looking back, no wonder that the people we met during our trip were predominantly just fleeting encounters…) We definitely didn’t use the balm as a natural pain reliever, its actual purpose.

I am interested in the topic of scent. It’s fascinating how you can get transported back to a certain mood or feeling of a particular time by just smelling a familiar scent from your past. The memory usually only comes back for a split second but the emotion is often stronger than the one you’d have by just looking at an old picture, for example. For years the smell of red tiger balm reminded me of our unforgetable trip. When I found the old glass container the other day and inhaled the smell, the desired effect didn’t happen though. After nearly twenty years of owning the balm its smell had, not surprisingly, faded a bit. Time for it to go and, after writing down my thoughts about it, I am confident to do so.

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