There are many moments in my life I’m unable to forget.
Some are beautiful, like the magpie I once saw flying past a vibrant orange sunset, and the rays of light caught the white feathers in its wings and turned them to brilliant, glowing magic for the split second it was framed in the sky between silhouetted houses.
Some are profound and complex, like the time I first saw my Sis, in her smoky-brown cot in the hospital, next to my Mum’s bed. I remember being held up so I could peek over the top. She was wrapped in a pale blanket, her head facing to the left, eyes closed. Peaceful. New.
Some are perfect, like holding Niece in the sunshine, on holiday, as she slept, and feeling her soft, warm weight, the scent of her sun-screened skin, the gentle sound of her breath and the tickle of her hair on my neck as she flopped against me.
Some are horrific, like the fear and terror and agony of knowing that through my own stupid pride I was disposing of the remains of my Neverborn in the public bathroom of a chain sandwich store, while my clueless friends waited for me in the front…
Some are looming, their deadlines moving inexorably closer and I powerless to stop them or change the course of what will happen beyond the best of my abilities.
And one…one isn’t a memory or a thought at all.
It’s this one which intrigues and fascinates me.
It’s a physical reaction.
My WonderAunty (you remember her?) has this thing she does, where she reaches out with one forefinger, presses it gently to the tip of my nose and says “Merrrrp!”
And I smile. Every. Single. Time.
Even when I don’t want to. Even when I hate the whole world and everything in it. Even when I’m so upset I have to hide my nose so she just can’t reach…
But each time she gets me, my cheeks involuntarily stretch into a massive grin, and the corners of my eyes crinkle up and my mood lifts. From love, I assume.
I physically cannot stop this reaction.
It’s a bond forged in repetition, which goes right back into my babyhood, when, like Pavlov and his dog, she set up a wonderfully reinforced behaviour, and I am absolutely the study in human form.
No-one else in the world can do this (and believe me – they’ve tried! I’ve had my nose ‘merrrp’ed by lots of people, all hoping to elicit the same reaction; to no avail) – just her.
And as much as I’m intrigued and fascinated by the sense memory my very neurones and muscles hold for this interaction…I’m unable to think too long about it – I’m too busy grinning like a happy dolphin-baby…