Sleeper Cells

It smells like back-to-school. Early September, early morning air. No longer warm, but not quite chilly. Dewy. Still. Quieter than August mornings. The sky is crystal clear. Brightest blue. The sun is at its end-of-summer angle. Shadows casting, just like that day, 19 years ago.

I can feel it on my skin. In my eyes. My ears. My nose. It’s in my chest. My stomach. My knees. Every inch of my body.

We carry our memories in all of our cells. Not just in our brain cells. Cellular memories can be triggered by any of our senses; a scene, a scent, a sound, a touch, a taste; a date on the calendar, a chill in the air, the angle of the sun.

Even if our minds forget, our bodies hold on to everything. There are memories locked into cells in our necks, our shoulders, our hips… Some cells hold on to memories like clouds, loosely, tentatively, so we can’t quite remember the specifics, or find the right words. And some cells hold on to memories like grudges, tightly, tensed, and ready to remember every detail, in a tirade.

Sleeper cells. Tiny little operatives, living in secret, lying dormant, just waiting for a signal, a trigger, an opportunity to activate.

Sometimes, it’s just a slight stirring, a familiarity, a sense of deja vu. It might be a flash of discomfort or fear, joy or pleasure, that seems to come from nowhere. Just a feeling with no accompanying memory. But sometimes, it’s strong enough to bring an entire experience flooding back through the body, directly to the brain.

Sometimes, an entire day. Every single moment of the day, replaying all at once, in one simple inhale of the morning air. The whole day, remembered and relived, in a moment.

Never forget? How can I ever forget? On days like this, my whole body remembers.

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