A Touch That Tells

Oct 30, 2017

Words by Kathryn Monsewicz


Have you ever felt raindrops on your shoulder? In the middle of sunshine without clouds? And you just know there’s a rainbow waiting at the end of it all? What about a snowflake, swirling in the wintry breeze, settling into place on the tip of your tongue? That tiny, cold burst that melts on impact, your mouth warming it up, later to be chased down by a cup of hot cocoa sitting in front of a cozy fire?

How about a mountain of old clothes you never wear come tumbling down on top of your head, blinding you with coats and cardigans and bringing you to your knees in a pile of cargos and capris? Oh the zippers a plenty getting caught in my hair and the sparkles of old prom dresses everywhere! But one little thing was shoved back in my wardrobe that I had forgot about since I turned 8 years old. What could it be? Perhaps my favorite bear?

Oh, no. No teddy here.

It was a piece of cloth, rugged with patches hanging on by strings. I remembered the fabric once held so dear to my heart. I took put it to my nose – it smelled of dust. Its colors of black and pink have not yet faded, nor has Minnie Mouse lost her smile though holes dot the tiny coverlet. It doesn’t matter how much I look at the blanket for a piece of my past. What could only be said about it was in the moment I touched the material to my face, felt the instant softness, that magically smooth thread, and felt a piece of my heart, buried deep inside my soul from the years of growing up I had to do, felt it emerge.

As humans, we remember through our senses best. We can recognize smells that bring back good or bad memories.

“Feel like Thai tonight? Oh, no, back when that truck hit us head on, our leftovers from that Thai restaurant went all over the windshield.”

We recognize tastes.

“How about some cotton candy? Definitely! That’s when my dad took me to the fair and I rode my first merry-go-round!”

Of course, we know what we have seen. And we know what we have heard. Sometimes we have an extra sense of deja vu. Have I been here before? No, but your memories make you think you have.

And touch. Of all things, we have touch — a sense that we rarely lose whether we go blind or lose the hearing in our ears. We feel the world around us and that world, the innocence of it, was contained in my baby blanket that came rushing down like a waterfall over my head.

The touch brought back good memories — of playing house with my best friend, of building forts in the living room with my dad, of falling asleep peacefully every night when my entire tiny body could fit under six square feet of space.

Now, I have these things called bed sheets and comforters and regular old blankets. I’m not falling asleep in my mother’s arms as she rocks me out of a strong cry. I’m not curled up on the couch watching a PG-13 movie and shielding my eyes with the baby blanket whenever I think the dog isn’t going to live.

I’m an adult now. I have responsibilities. Responsibilities that tell me I have to eat vegetables every day. I have to go to work and make money to pay my cell phone bill. I have to go to school and get an education so I can become a professional. And what? Still fall asleep in a regular old bed with regular old blankets? There is nothing special about the bed I sleep in now.

But the touch of my past brings all those special feelings back to me.

Look for a part of your past that you enjoyed. A part that you can feel or that you can smell, taste, hear, see. Welcome it, if only for just a moment — because I totally don’t sleep with my baby blanket anymore…

What our senses experience every day are going to be ingrained into our memories. Maybe they won’t be so easy to call up, but one thing is for sure.

Just one simple touch can uncover a piece of you you thought you’d lost long ago. The rainbow on that bright and cloudless day.

Kathryn Monsewicz is a blogger, contact her at kmonsewi@kent.edu.