It is the combination of things we remember that point out how certain places are special to us, hallowed by their unique features and our own experiences in them. It matters not whether we intended to go there, or whether a series of serendipitous choices led us there.
What matters is that there will always remain memories and thoughts that make such places important in our lives – they are not just physical locations anymore, but are defined by the veneer of history that everyone who goes there leaves on them. Embedded within these layers are the people we were with, the events that took place there, and those that almost did. There are landscapes and beaches, skylines and walking trails, restaurants and cafes and a host of other places that together with the dust and grime of the present grow to be places with character. They recount the fun conversations and stories by the bonfires on the beach, of shared campgrounds and hastily pitched tents, beautiful sunsets and walks on steep trails, jumping into hot tubs and drives across beautiful vistas, of wines tasted in the brilliant sun and dinners in lush riverside restaurants, of people met in passing that we may never see again and of friends made along the way who are today important influences in our life; of people telling us how lucky we were there at just the right time and of a sense of accomplishment of achieving things we never thought possible – or even considered doing, of messed up timings and missed dinners, of lying randomly on beaches and staring at starry skies, of shared food and localized disappointments, of train journeys and sudden passport checks within borders, of passing samaritans with offers of food and help, of breathtaking events and funny incidents, and of all the times just spent enjoying the moment, with past worries and future tensions becoming completely non existent.
These are memories within all of us which we can go back to retrieve, drawing them out wisp by wisp till something – be it a snatch of music on a passing station, the whiff of food on a campfire, a familiar perfume, the road sign pointing to a familiar location, the smell of eucalyptus, or just the mention of something that takes us back to a particular time and place – binds them all together and takes them from just being tenuous threads in our heads to being a solid, real mixture of events, interactions, people and places which drive our passions, soothe our hearts, shapes our experiences, and ultimately, make us who we really are.
We are, after all, nothing but the stories we create for ourselves.