Every now and then, I fade out and relive that one exact memory. My three-year-old self running down the stairs in the rundown commie-block that we lived in.
The sound of my sandals thumping on each step echoes through the entire hallway. I'm filled with joy, a childlike joy.
After scaling through the entire staircase, I finally reach the ground floor, and I lay my eyes upon the whole reason why I was running.
It's standing there, right underneath the staircase, my recently bought, plastic tricycle.
I feel euphoric, and I instantly grab it by its handles, as I drag the tricycle towards the entrance door.
I struggle to hold the door open, while simultaneously dragging my vehicle through the doorway. My struggle was worthless, the tricycle is now crammed between the door and the doorway.
As I stand there, wondering how I can solve this mess, I hear footsteps slowly approaching the entrance.
The door slowly opens, sunlight scatters around the room, and my eyes greet an old lady standing in the doorway.
"Would you like some help with that?", she says while looking down at the tricycle, which is barely holding on to the doorframe. I nod quietly, and she smiles back.
As she grabs the doorknob, she steps to the side, extending the door to its limit. I stand there, still gazing at her.
"Go on then, go", she says while waving her hand in the air with a big smile around her face.
I walk carefully towards the tricycle, grab the handles and push it down on the gray, brick driveway in front of the block. I nod back at the lady and thank her for her kind gesture.
I roll my tricycle further down the driveway, experiencing the warm, Eastern-European summer as I hear the bees humming around all the flowers scattered around the driveway.
That right there is where my memory ends. There is a gap after that memory, which lasts multiple years, where I remember absolutely nothing.
I cannot explain why this memory has stuck with me through all these years. There isn't anything particularly interesting about it, nothing extreme, nothing traumatic, nothing life changing.
Maybe it stuck with me because it was the last time, I felt genuine joy, but that wouldn't really make sense either.
How could my mind know that this specific moment would be so important to me in the future?
Memories aren't stored years after they happen, they get assigned to a specific part of the brain the very moment right after they take place. It seems like my mind put it in the middle-drawer.
Not the top-drawer with all the most ecstatic, traumatic and important memories, and neither in the bottom drawer, filled with all the insignificant memories.
For some reason, my three-year-old brain found something so significant about this moment, that it chose to store it a place where I could find it decades later.