Every once in a while, a tiny, seemingly meaningless thing happens in the morning that sets the tone for the rest of the day. This morning, I was microwaving butter to put on my toast and I happened to flip over the little dish on my way to the sink with it. CHINA is the solitary word on the back. My traitorous brain fills in the rest on its own, “all the way to New York.” And that’s all it takes, I’m singing China by Tori Amos under my breath while buttering my toast and I know exactly what kind of day it’s going to be: a singing sad songs while crying at my keyboard kind of day.
A while back I discovered that I have a condition called Aphantasia. I guess I should clarify. I always knew that I couldn’t see things in my mind the way other people could, but I didn’t know it had a name, and I didn’t know it was a thing other people also had. I haven’t discussed it on here, mostly because I didn’t really know what to say, or how I felt about it. I’ve spent many hours since puzzling out how this quirk of mine impacts my life. Mostly, I think, it doesn’t. I have other ways of doing the necessary things in life without mental images, and aside from those infuriating ‘take this shape and twist it around’ questions on standardized test, I don’t think missing this particular trait has created many problems for me. The one thing I was sad about missing out on though, was the emotional connection some people seem to have with the visual memories. I was jealous of it. I craved it.
You’re probably wondering right now what this has to do with Tori Amos. Good question. I’ve thought a lot about the internalization of senses recently, and why mine seems so lacking, and I realized something today. Sight is the only sense where I’m lacking. I can remember listening to this song for the first time, sitting on the floor of a friend’s dorm room. I can remember what I was wearing and damn I loved that sweater. I remember the shoes I had on that I adored and eventually wore through the soles and had to throw out. I can remember the smell of the incense she loved; I still associate that scent with her. I remember the awe in her voice when she told me I just had to hear this. I remember it all, in vivid, luscious detail, even though I can’t see it in my head. Even though I’ve never seen ANYTHING in my head. The emotional value to all of those things is connected inextricably to that song for me. That song, that entire album really, evokes for me a certain person and a memory of what they meant to me. That’s enough for me. Too much really, which is why I’m weepy today. I miss her, and I miss that girl I was. And it’s all tangled up with Tori Amos and the Great Wall of China.
Hearts and Puppies,