OUTSIDE OF love and family, there is nothing that draws a human being to a particular place better than memories. Modify that adverb better to other, what I mean is if at all, nothing comes close.
I recently walked the distance between my favorite malls that I regularly did five years ago just before I tried becoming an OFW (Overworked and Freezing in Wellington, just kidding Wellingtonians and Wellington Kinoys), and I was surprised how starkly I was no longer used to the humidity, pollution and noise that was omnipresent in the area.
If you must know, the two malls are Robinson’s Galleria on Ortigas Ave and SM Megamall on EDSA. It’s not a matter of taste or preference; like Mt Everest and the raging sea, the malls will always be there no matter what happens. You go in and out of the mall to use as shortcuts to get elsewhere, you use the malls to find out prices for things you will buy elsewhere ( admit it ), you eat at the malls but only (1) to meet and talk with friends and associates, (2) to try the newest places, and (3) when there are coupons, discounts and promos to avail of.
I have a fourth reason, and that’s to use public transport, whose terminals are in either mall. Sometimes I use the jeepneys nearer Megamall, and sometimes I board the FX taxis whose stations are less crowded in Galleria. Like many of the great unwashed, I had little choice but to use public, but it’s always been both convenient and cheap, if a bit time-consuming and crowded.
It might just have been me, but I remembered quite accurately the approximate steps between malls, the alternative paths and short cuts through Ortigas Center, even the cracks on the pavements and footpaths or sidewalks along the way. I did notice the proliferation of high-rises, elevated walkways and fast food establishments on almost every third building between malls, which were already fortresses of fast food icons in themselves.
What I kept wondering to myself was, much as I’d been away for a goodly amount of time (nearly five years although I visited every now and then), how come it only felt like yesterday? Why did the oppressive heat, jolting beeps and face-wrinkle inducing carbon monoxide seem so familiar? Why could I negotiate the maze between Mega and Galle with my eyes closed? It’s not like I had eidetic memory, and if I had it, most of it would’ve been dusty, consigned to compressed files, or eaten up by forgetfulness by now. And I’m the least person connected to peanut, fish and other brain food induced sharpness (although I eat anything), especially since I’m a borderline ADHD, dyslexic, autistic and autodidactically pretentious person. One of two theories I can come up with is that the place itself, whenever I get near it, renews, reconnects and rejuvenates whatever neural or brain cell connections still existing in my brain. Pretty spaced out I know but I’ve heard and done crazier.
But can the memory itself prioritize data regarding important and crucial places and make them accessible when you need them? This may be nitpicking, but the moment you behold a place you’ve visited before, particularly places that are close to your heart, it might just be possible that everything you know about a place, including routes, landmarks and peripheral information suddenly comes to the surface and become available.
This is so much theorizing, neither here nor there and ultimately unprovable except in sophisticated lablike scenarios, but it’s worked everytime I step out of the three malls in the general area of Ortigas Center. And I’ve worked my last three jobs in big, labyrinthine buildings in Makati City and Pasig, I’d like to test my crackpot theory there.
But I’m not, repeat not gonna try my conspiracy theory in Divisoria, Baclaran and anywhere else. Even if those places are mildly familiar, methinks I’d pay dearly if ever I get lost there, inaykupo.
Thanks for reading!
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