Sometimes it’s the smell of bread cooking, freshly mown grass, or a particular perfume that transports us back to the memory of a loved one or treasured domestic ritual. Sometimes we hear a sound that reminds us of an event from our past. A certain song, cicadas on a summer evening, even sirens. At other times it’s an object that helps to preserve the past. Letters, a book, printed photographs, or toys.
I have Mr Rabbit. He’s 35 years old, like me, and was given to me when I was a newborn. He went everywhere with me — carried by the ears — sleeping, shopping, away on holidays.
I lost him once.
We’d gone a trip with family friends and were all staying in a holiday house together. I remember waking up to see a huge huntsman spider on the doorframe. I thought it had crawled over us while we slept. I remember how I ate all my dinner so I’d be allowed to eat a bag of mixed lollies. Soon after, I threw up the lollies…and the dinner. Most of all, I remember the feeling when I’d left Mr Rabbit behind. But he soon came back to me. Cleaner than he was, and with his body re-covered in new fabric. Someone had lovingly restored him for me.
Some thirty years later, I see him sitting on my youngest son’s bookshelf — neglected, dusty, stained, and torn. I enquired a few years ago about having him properly cleaned and restored but it was too much money to part with. As I get older I wonder, is it too much to ask — to invest in our past, like we invest in our future?