They say that the sense most strongly tied to memories is scent, and that basically, a specific scent is more likely to trigger a memory than sight, sound, touch, or sound. Today, I had a flashback to childhood...
Scents have some amazingly wondrous meanings...the scent of fresh pine needles takes me back to the mountains of North and South Carolina as a child, crunching around the mountains and looking under rocks to see what critter-crawlies we could find, then squealing and running away if we actually FOUND something with a zillion legs underneath them. Or, most recently, my friend Jim's place - a Christmas tree farm in CT - one of the most serene and beautiful places in recent memory.
Today I had a "scent flashback", but it was not quite as romantic. The bathrooms at the hospital where I work smell like the bathrooms at the campground where I spent my summers during childhood. I had all sorts of flashbacks to beaches, traipsing down to the beach with my sister and 4 cousins to try to build the world's biggest sandcastle for the sand art contest (we never won, and I was always so disappointed). But mostly, I flashed back to the bathrooms... with the perpetually damp, sandy floors, echoey sounds, and spider webs in the corners that I swore could entrap a child... funny how just a scent can bring those once-forgotten memories flooding back.
Next time, I just hope it's not a bathroom that triggers 'em.