VOL. 8 March ISSUE YEAR 2007

Off the Beaten Track

in Vol. 8 - March Issue - Year 2007
Let The Memories Flow

The cork rolled to a slow stop just a few inches from my left elbow. I caught its movement out of the corner of my eye while my hands groped blindly behind the computer monitor. I didn’t pay much attention at first, concentrated as I was on fishing out a pencil which had just skipped out of sight. Progress was slow and cautious as I tried to avoid pulling out plugs which had more dust on them than I cared to see.

It was the type of cork normally used for champagne, thick and sturdy enough to resist the pressure of the sparkling beverage as it vainly tries to escape its glass prison. The name of the vineyard had been branded on the side. On the bottom there was a date scrawled in blue ink, unmistakably in my own handwriting.

Thirteen years ago. The date meant nothing to me. I had no recollection of retrieving the cork from somewhere and leaving it on the old kitchen table which now functioned as my work space in a corner of my bedroom. The computer, the monitor and the printer had been installed only a couple of years ago. How did this small object get there?
Joyful reunions with long-lost friends, evenings of passion and love, births, anniversaries, marriages, moments we want to remember forever. Sometimes we take photographs, sometimes we write. Or sometimes we keep silly little tokens, like a cork scooped up before the floor gets swept clean and the dishes get washed, confident that many years later the mere sight of the souvenir will bring back the same intensity.

My mind was drawing a blank. No birthdays in the family, no significant passages in my life or in the lives of loved ones, friends or acquaintances, present or past. And yet I had written that date, something had occurred on that day which I wanted to remember. A rueful smile crossed my face as I realized that the precaution had probably seemed useless at the time, for surely, I had probably thought to myself, I would have no trouble recalling this moment……. 

Red, happy faces, flushed with excitement. Way too many people packed into the room. The babble of a multitude of conversations. Windows briefly opened for some fresh air and then quickly slammed shut against the cold winter wind. Squeals of delight as the cork popped and the amber liquid gushed out, spraying everyone unlucky enough to be standing too close. Hugs and kisses planted on cheeks as good feelings spread throughout the room, infecting even those who till then had not exchanged a single word. And yet all of these faces were featureless to my mind’s eye. To whom did these cheerful voices belong?

Or perhaps it had been a quiet, candlelight dinner as we slowly grew accustomed to each other’s presence. The setting a bit too formal for my liking, but the food was perfect and the service discreet. The waiter’s timely suggestion for a fine champagne. Her eyes never leaving my face as I did my best to keep the conversation light. The mutual attraction getting stronger by the minute, tempered by the fear of saying something that would break the enchantment. I searched vainly for the shape of her face, for the wave of her hair. What color were her eyes?

I stared at the cork as I slowly twirled it between thumb and forefinger, trying to decide its fate. What was the point of keeping something which no longer meant anything to me?

The cork is now lying in the darkness of one of my kitchen drawers. It is waiting for a justification of its very existence, for me to understand why I decided to keep it. For it may be tomorrow, it may be several years from now, but I know that one day I will bump into a friend whom I haven’t seen in ages and we will talk about the good old days. And we will tell each other about our lives, our failures and our triumphs. “We had that wild party at your place, the winter when everything froze over, how could you forget?” Or perhaps I will glance at a woman’s face as I hurry down the street. We will both stop in our tracks and slowly turn towards each other. “Oh, it’s you. So how have you been?”

And then it would all come back to me with a rush, and I will remember.

By Giovanni Gregorat, Contributing Editor MFN & Sales Manager, Pometon S.p.A.

Author: Giovanni Gregorat