In my job I have to travel a lot. That can be a challenge as I am left handed and spatially challenged. I get lost turning a corner. I don’t do “left and right” and I don’t do directions. No one would ever ask me to navigate – except my husband who should and does know better. We have arguments about my lack of ability. I have other skills Navigation just isn’t one of them.
When I have to drive to somewhere new, I have to google it, write out a detailed route map, and have the satnav on. I go prepared.
This day, I was heading out into the country, completely new territory and a long way from home. Small winding country roads, high hedge-rows, virtually no road signs or names. Yet I intuitively knew where to go. It all seemed familiar even though I had never been here before. A bit spooky!
As I arrived at the cottage I was to visit, I felt like I was coming home. It was all so familiar, more than just because it was a fairly typical example of a cottage of its era and I had been to other similar ones. I saw an elderly woman looking out of the dormer window. She waved and smiled at me. I felt a great sense of comfort and excitement at seeing her there even though I knew I didn’t know her. Perhaps just one of those kindly faces that drew you in. But it felt more than that, there was a connection.
I did what I had come to do with the owners of the house. I didn’t see the elderly woman again. I looked back as I was leaving but she wasn’t at the window.
That weekend I went home to see my parents. I told my mum about my visit to that cottage. As I was telling her, she became very quiet. She sat there for a few minutes looking at me then got up abruptly and left the room. Strange!
She came back about five minutes later with two sepia photos in her hand: one of a cottage and one of her grandmother, and she began to tell me the story of her granny who had paid an important role in her early life. I was named after her.
My great grandmother had been born and later died in the cottage I had visited. The photo was a younger version of the elderly woman I had seen in the window.
My mother hadn’t been back to that cottage since she was a young woman and she had never spoken of it to us; some big family scandal had broken the connection. So how did I know, whose memory was I connecting to? Can you “inherit” memories, be born with familial consciousness built into your psyche?