I store a visual memory of the layout of places I’m familiar with like my house, my office, the grocery store. If I’m going to a new place or it’s been awhile since I visited, I expect surprises. I’m on alert.
I listen for others moving around me. I use my white cane to find a clear path. I wait until my senses adjust to the environment so I can pick up irregular sounds and objects around me that will give the space context. I create a mental map, more than a blueprint to recall. The next time I visit, I’ll retain a basic familiarity–a low coffee table, the dog wandering, the bright sunlight by the picture window, bathroom down the hall on the right, etc–of the unique elements. It’s something that I sorta always did, but now with low vision, I do it for more than pleasant memories.
When we enter a new space, my husband gives me a basic description, a general layout with attention to hazards like cords, stairs, or low hanging objects. With my prompting, he will note which people I know in the room as my low vision can turn friends into strangers or what I perceive to be a coat rack. Until they talk.
Usually I’m curious about the details in a space that texturize a room: wall art, light fixtures, furniture, flooring. Depending on the lighting conditions, I may be able to discern details. If I’m dealing with glare and light sensitivity, I’ll badger Stockton to tell me about what he sees around us.
I listen for ambient sounds. Is there a water fountain in the courtyard? Is there always jazz music playing in this cafe? Is there a distinctive chime when the door opens? Also, I notice the scents. Lysol. Lavender. Baking bread. Coffee. Perfume. I file it away in my mind. The information I take in enhances the memory I build for every location I spend time in, every space a page in the mental scrapbook of the places I go.
Do you create a memory of the places you go? What do you remember about your favorite restaurant, a school you attended, a house you grew up in?