It was just one little piece of candy, neatly wrapped in bright, colorful paper.
As I put on my coat, I found it in my pocket. It had been given to me a while ago, a small reminder of a time I had left but never really forgotten.
I set the candy on a nearby table and went about my business. However, as the day progressed, I couldn’t help but think more about the candy and what it represented.
I thought about when, where, why and how I received it. Then I thought about the days surrounding that day. All of them seemed wonderful. I was amazed by how one small piece of candy could suddenly bring back a flood of memories.
To elaborate on those days seems unnecessary now. Time has moved on. So should I.
But on a cold winter day, I began to wish I could return to an earlier time, although I knew I never could.
If only I could go back, I thought, I would be happier. I could relive great experiences. I could see old friends. I could make better choices to prolong that time.
But then I wondered if those days truly were that great. Perhaps I was simply wearing the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia.
After all, hindsight may be 20/20. But vision grows worse as one gets older, as facts, perception and speculation blend together. Slowly, the mind erases what happened with what we wanted to happen, while also confusing “what might have been” with “what would have been.” Hence, I began to doubt my recollection of those days. But I decided, surely, they must have been as splendid as I remembered. And I wanted to return to them.
I looked at the candy once more.
Memories can be triggered by the oddest circumstances and items. For instance, the scent of freshly-baked cookies can take you back to when you were a child, helping your grandmother cook in her kitchen. A song can return you to a romantic evening with someone you thought you would never see again.
Or consider the case of food critic Anton Ego in the movie Ratatouille. With one taste of the title dish, Ego was mentally transported back to his childhood, when his mother comforted him with a warm bowl of soup. I thought that perhaps I, too, could be like Anton Ego. Just one little taste of the candy might jog my memory, allowing me to mentally re-experience those “good ol’ days,” if only for a second or two.
All I needed was one more little taste. One last venture into the past.
I unwrapped the candy, closed my eyes and placed it into my mouth.
It was the worst candy I ever tasted.