One of the reasons behind synaesthesia is the increased neural connections between different sensory parts of the brain. In people with synaesthesia, neural signals tend to travel more quickly. Having highly connected senses gives synaesthetes more hooks to remember things. Therefore, it is not surprising that a common trait amongst synaesthetes is enhanced, sometimes photographic, memory.
I was born in spring in northern hemisphere. My birth season was not the only reason why my father named me Spring. The name was originated from a few main characters of “Dream of the Red Chamber”, one of the greatest classical Chinese novels. The novel has remained as my father’s and my own favourite novel.
My family was going through a very hard period of time before and after my birth. Both my paternal grandparents and maternal grandparents endured a sharp decline in their wealth and status. The carefree childhood and youth were very quickly over for my parents and their siblings. My father could very much associate his own family’s change with the novel. The name Spring gave the family some hope that the toughest period could be over soon.
Sitting at Cafe Spring during my lunch break the other day, my mind was filled with those childhood memories. I was sure that it was triggered by the name of the cafe. I know many people experience this type of flashbacks when something they see reminds them of something else.
The next part might be something extra. Eating a meal at Cafe Spring and soaking under the warm spring sun also made me feel I was in Vienna. I am not sure why, I often see Vienna when I think of Spring. Probably because both times I visited Vienna was in spring. Thinking of Vienna led to further synaesthetic experiences such as seeing a beautiful silky white colour and a wedding dress.
The interesting part is that I only see very few places in the world with colours. The strongest ones are Vienna in silky white, Paris in off white, and Budapest in green. I occasionally think Syndey in blue and Melbourne in grassy green, but not often. Vienna gives me an image of a silky satan wedding dress, and I can feel the smooth fabric. I think this is the closest sensation I can get to my children’s synaesthesia.
There was more coming to my mind. I started thinking about a series of events happened in Vienna when we were there on 14th of April 2013. The weather was surprisingly hot after a long cold European winter. One of the things we did was watching the end of Vienna City Marathon. I was sure it was a Sunday. The next day, we were in Bratislava and saw the news of Boston Marathon Bombing. I still remembered the shock on my husband’s face. So the date that happened must be 15th of April.
This one thought after another is how my mind usually connects a wide range of things unrelated or related, and how I remember historical events, people’s birthdays, and recall things happened a long time ago. When we were in Vienna, I had a competition with my husband to see who remembered more details of our first Vienna trip 13 years ago. Both of us remembered which restaurant we ate our dinner, who were with us, and which table we sat. But he won over me by remembering which hotel we stayed and where the hotel was.
I would like to dedicate this blog to the families of Boston Bombing victims. I hope next spring will bring the renewed hope, just like the hope my father had by naming me Spring.