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  • I have this weird tendency to strongly associate a memory of an event or person with a stimuli that may or may not seem distinctly related to the memory from an objective point of view. The link between a memory and a stimuli are often so strong that it physically hurts me to remember. It doesn't necessarily have to be a negative memory for it to hurt. However, that sudden rush of the past comes at me so quickly that I am unable to mentally prepare myself for the emotions that follow. And even when I know what the stimuli will do to me, I'm unable to block the blow of pain.

    For example, every time I listen to Si Tu Vois Ma Mère by Sidney Bechet, I can't help but think of my trip to Paris two years ago and how amazing it was. The song embodies the feeling that you get when you're walking down the streets of Paris. I wish I could say it was all some made up expectations or idea that movies put in your head, but it's not.

    Two years ago, I was in the least romantic time of my life: I was backpacking in Europe with my sister after being terribly sick in Rome and with an emotionally abusive boyfriend back in the U.S. I was incredibly depressed with life overall, regardless of the amazing marvels I was surrounded by at the moment. I felt miserable in Rome, and our next stop was London. There I regained peace. London was like a breath of fresh air, but I digress. This confession is not about London.

    The next stop was Paris. The moment I stepped foot in Paris, everything felt different, weird, charming. It suddenly didn't matter that I wasn't in the most romantic city in the world with a significant other. It didn't matter that my sister was constantly up my ass because that's how older sisters are with their younger siblings that piss them off all the time for no apparent reason. It suddenly didn't even matter that it was raining on and off at oddly timed intervals, that the humidity ruined my hair, that my asthma was acting up, that I didn't speak diddly-squat of French, that the most I knew about French history was about influential courtesans in art and politics and nothing else, that I had been walking in boots with moderately sized heels for the entirety of this trip, or that I had a consistent sharp-shooting prickly pain on my lower back every 30 minutes.

    None of this seemed to matter to me. I was intoxicated by the indescribable charm of Paris. It was more than I had expected it to be. And whenever I listen to Si Tu Vois Ma Mère, I can't help but relish in my memory of walking down the Jardin des Tuileries on a cold and misty day and stopping under a souvenir stand as it started pouring rain. All the while, I was staring longingly at the beautiful carousel and wishing I was five years old so it wouldn't look so inadequate if I decided to go on it.

    My body recognizes the memory and before I realize it, that painful pang first hits me directly in the chest, but after the initial blow, it spreads through my torso and limbs with a warmth that momentarily immobilizes me. This wave of emotions morphs into a ball of dormant passion full of agony from wishing to explode and burn me up from the inside out. Simultaneously, my eyes begin to prickle with contained tears and my breathing becomes labored. Eventually, my body regains partial control of its motor skills and I'm able to inhale reality and exhale the mist of memories that clouded my mind. Regardless of how odd this occurance may be, I find comfort in knowing that my symptoms are not of alien nature. My symptoms are simply those caused by that wonderful disease called love.
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