It was our wedding anniversary recently and my better half and I were trying to remember the hotel in Aberporth where we spent our honeymoon. We remember the honeymoon itself quite well, the places we visited, the things we did. Getting sunburned on the beach and having to spend the rest of the week covered up – we remember all that.
But we don’t remember the hotel. It was on a hill and lots of things on the evening menu were charged extra, but that’s all we remember.
Interesting though, is the fact that most of our memories are linked with a photo or two. In most cases we have photographs of the places we visited or connected with what we did. Not everything we did obviously.
Anyhow, it led me to ponder what exactly we are remembering in such cases. Are we remembering the photographs rather than the actual events? Are the photographs more than mnemonics – do they partly take over from the original memories? Do we anchor various strands of memory to the photographs such that one becomes indistinguishable from the other?
If we had taken one or two photographs of the hotel, then I’m sure we’d have remembered it, so what does that tell us about our memories? Does it tell us we have simply not had enough memory refreshers to keep the memory of the hotel alive? Or does it tell us our memories of the hotel would have faded anyway and the photographs would have taken their place as pseudo memories.
Obviously if we’d ever been back to Aberporth and that unremembered hotel, then we would have refreshed our memories. Now I very much doubt if we could find the place even if we wanted to.