In a Flash, Vivid Memories of Marburg

Memories of places come back to me in a nostalgic flash. It's strange, sometimes, that I've been to so many places: The other day a friend mentioned the Fashion Institute of Technology, and immediately a vivid picture of it comes to me. I've walked past it so many times, I've stood on the corner of 7th Avenue and W. 26th, coffee in hand, watching Manhattan pass before me.

The same thing happens with movies: I see a scene that was shot on location and, often, I not only identify the place but instantly conjure up vivid memories of being there. And not just movies filmed in New York, either, but movies filmed just about anywhere in the United States or England: the scenes of Brighton in Wimbledon, the footage of Boston's Chinatown in The Departed, the streets of my beloved Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Romeo is Bleeding. It is precisely because of their ability to trigger vivid memories that I so like movies with a strong sense of place.

There, too, are the memories that come back to me without trigger, memories of those moments when you are at once self-aware and world-aware, the moments that you remember forever because in that instant you saw yourself in the world from on high, as though you were in an airplane, calm, and looking down on the heaths near Crawley, you see yourself there and your whole life unfolds in a flood of memories.

That happened to me in Marburg. On a crisp autumn morning, while the fog was dissipating and the sun beginning to warm the village, I set out on a run, heading to the trails on the east edge of town and then following one that skirts a farm. The horses are there, and I stop and talk to them. They come closer. I remember every place I've been, and together we are at peace.

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