By: Sawyer Bennett

It’s funny… how I recognize things. Living in the Amazon for the past eighteen years, my memories of my prior life were like faded dreams, almost like I could reach out and touch them, but they were just beyond my grasp. I wondered how much learning I would have to do, and how much of the “modern marvels” that Father Gaul used to talk to me about would surprise me.

What I found was that as I experienced the modern world, I found a distinct familiarity in what I was seeing. For example, I had no memory of traveling by plane to Brazil with my parents when I was a child. But the minute I saw the little Cessna that took us from the Amazon River into the capital of Brasilia, I knew I had been on one of those planes before. I didn’t remember it… I just knew it. The engine didn’t make me uneasy when it started, and I didn’t have an inherent distrust of the concept of flying. While I didn’t have specific memories of flying, as my fingers touched the glass windows of the plane, I suddenly remembered what “glass” was. The clear, hard material was not only familiar to me, but I remembered my parents’ house in Georgia when I was little. I remember running headfirst into a clear, sliding glass door and knocking myself flat on my butt.

When we landed at the airport, and Moira led me to a rental car, some clearer memories did assault me. I remembered being in my parents’ car, sitting in the backseat and maybe even holding a book that had bright pictures in it. I even think I remembered my parents’ voices as they talked with one another.

More things seemed just inherently familiar. At the hotel where we stayed for a few days, I was able to easily identify a variety of objects. The bed… and pillows. Yes, I knew what a pillow was. Moira brought me into the bathroom and explained how the toilet and the shower worked. It was coming back to me in little bits and pieces.

Some of these wonders I took advantage of. The shower was amazing; the water felt cleaner and lighter than the river waters or standing puddles of muddy rain that I would normally wash myself in. The smell of the shampoo made me think fondly of the scent of water lilies. Brushing my teeth for the first time in so many years was beyond incredible, and I couldn’t stop running my tongue over my teeth, amazed at how smooth they felt. No amount of scraping them with reed had ever made them this clean.

Yes, all of these things that were oddly familiar ended up being a comfort to me to some extent. I didn’t have any real moments where I felt overwhelmed by what I was experiencing… unless you count Moira driving a little too fast through Brasilia. We stayed there for two days, as I had to see a doctor for a health screening and to receive vaccinations, and we had to get my new passport at the American Embassy. While I had hoped that my passport would be denied, and thus ending this ludicrous situation, it was pushed through when I was able to show the consulate proof of my identity. That consisted of mine and my parents’ original travel documents that I kept all these years after they died, along with their wedding rings, one family photo, and our family Bible. The secretary to the American Ambassador personally handled my documents and gave me a warm, congratulatory smile when she handed me my passport. I wanted to slit her throat over her happiness that I was returning “home.” I wasn’t happy about it, but everyone else thought it was a wonderful thing.

There were some things I had a hard time adjusting to. While I briefly cherished the softness of the hotel bed, I found it a foreign feeling and thus uncomfortable. I ended up sleeping on the floor each night. The clothing that Moira had me put on before we boarded the Cessna was constraining and scratched against my skin. I hated it. The minute I was alone in my room, I stripped it all away and remained naked as I was used to.

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