When memories take you to a different world

May 17, 2021

different-worldOn our way to Costco today we passed what used to be the Coleman Still. I was instantly transported back 30 years to what now seems like a completely different world.

I was maybe 41 and worked at a semiconductor company with the man I later married. A few times a week we’d grab his friend Alan, and another Carol we worked with, and the four of us would grab lunch at this funky place near the San Jose Airport.

I can still see the place–its wooden tables, the big salad bar.  Al enjoyed a drink or 20 and so he’d have a beer or three, and the four of us would talk and talk and talk. At the time, we all smoked so there was that.

different-worlAl died of prostate cancer too young some years later…he was a tragic figure, really, with grown children he was estranged from and then he married a Chinese girl my father said was a prostitute and she could’ve been. It’s a mystery how my father would know this, since he’d only met her once, but it seemed a reasonable conclusion when I thought about it. But who knows?

He and his wife had a son. Other than the state they live in, I have no idea what’s happened to them since Al died.

I don’t even remember the other Carol’s last name, but I can still see her, and just where she sat at our company. My ex went his way, too. We tried to remain friends after our divorce, but it was pretty obvious his new wife didn’t like that one bit. No idea why–I wasn’t interested in her man. If I had been, we’d still be together.

The Coleman Still became a taqueria and at some point that went bust, too. It’s abandoned now, with a chain link fence around the deserted property.

For a moment, as I passed by, I could still see it the way it was back in the 1990s, and the four of us: me so young and so into my career and all  of us alive in that moment, with no idea what lay ahead.

15 comments on “When memories take you to a different world
  1. Adela says:

    Happens to me all the time! As a child, sitting in the back seat, my parents would “remember when this was a corn field,” or some such memory of days gone by. I remember thinking, ‘they must be really old.’ Now I am the one reminiscing.

  2. JOY mANUEL says:

    It’s interesting how certain special places can trigger memories quite intensely. I’m a very olfactory person and there are places that remind me of the past and on top of the images in my head, I can also remember the scents that make the memory even stronger. Whether it’s a good or undesirable memory, both are torture. One you’d rather forget but obviously sticks around; the other you want to savor but sadly you know is unequivocally long gone.

  3. laurie stone says:

    Such a poignant tale. I remember old friends sitting around lunch tables so long ago, Have no idea what became of most of them. This story gave me goosebumps.

  4. Linda Hobden says:

    Nostalgia indeed. Sometimes hearing certain songs played on the radio can take me back to nostalgic moments. Such a lovely post ?

  5. Alana says:

    Oh, those earlier in life memories! Just the other day, I caught myself telling my 30-something year old son: “Remember the road that ran past Grandma’s house? I can remember when it was unpaved…” My husband can remember when there was a chicken farm nearby, on that unpaved road. Now the road is a heavily traveled road in an outlying suburb of New York City. What will son be reminiscing about one day? No, wait, he’s already started.

  6. We do that a lot when we visit KY. There are so many memories there good and bad, but now we’re making new ones in our new home state.

  7. I love old eating establishments that survive for decades because they become neighborhood mainstays. I always get sad when they close.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Had a lot of that when I went back to Connecticut a couple of weeks ago. So many places either gone, empty, or just changed. But each landmark I looked at instantly brought me back to a different time. One was the McDonald’s near where I lived that brought back hanging out Friday nights after football and basketball games. When we were living with my mother a couple of years ago, I drove by that McDonald’s numerous times each week but I was never nostalgic about it, but two+ years out of the state and driving by it just once brought me back and remembering a friend from long ago that I’ve lost touch with…can’t even find her on Facebook.

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