I have long suspected that stressful or emotional times can evoke deep, strong memories and feelings of place more effectively than simply spending extended periods of time in an area.
I drove through the Midway section of St. Paul early this afternoon to paw through the bike garage at MMRB and visit the Menard's before heading home to watch the football game this afternoon.
I was struck by how familiar this area was and how strongly I felt about it although I rarely go over there. If you haven't been there, it's a kind of seedy, industrial area shaped by University Ave., Prior Ave. and I-94. The reason for this heightened feeling of place, of course, is that we started the company I have worked for 17 years ago to the day in this neighborhood.
We got a short term lease on a small building at 520 Lynnhurst Ave (across a little park from Porky's Drive-in). We only worked in that space for about 5 or 6 months before we moved to Butler Square, but to this day I know that area like the back of my hand and it resonates with me every time I go there. The major change since we were there is the construction of the Menard's - this used to be a motel and restaurant/bar that was called the Irish Well, but that's gone and it's a Menard's parking lot now. Otherwise, it's all pretty much the same - the Midway Liquor store, the saw repair place and sign making shop...
It's a pretty non-remarkable area, really. Yet, I have a strong sense of attachment to it. The stress and excitement of this time in my life seems to have etched those memories deeper into my psyche, despite the short time I worked there.