Column: 08

Wanna Walk Hills

The city where you can walk around with fond memories


In the Dementia World, there is a city where memories of unforgettable events keep popping up in your mind, making you feel like you have wandered into the past. A memory of finally apprehending the criminal as a detective after a long stakeout with your buddy. A memory from the night you took the lady of unmatched beauty to the top-end restaurant. A memory of surfing, or almost flying, around the streets on the skateboard that your scientist friend invented. The list goes on. This city will tempt you to keep walking its streets.

As you walk, you may sometimes associate the scenery with memories: this is the park where I used to play with my best friend, that is the road that I often took to go to the office, and here is the shop that I used to stop by on my way home from work. Such nostalgia might give you pleasant and relaxing feelings.

These days, I often return to my old self, as if I have suddenly fallen through time. I step out the front door of my house, totally convinced there is somewhere I must go.

The moment I woke up this morning, I once again leapt through time. I headed out to the office where I worked until ten years ago.*1 I was walking empty-handed with rapid strides to catch the bus, but then forgot where I was headed.*2 I was puzzled. I clearly needed to go home but could not tell how to get there, either.*3 Try to imagine how embarrassing it would be to ask strangers where your own house is. Thinking that I might be able to make it back home if I took a bus that drove past my house, I wandered around to find a bus stop. Luckily, I bumped into my neighbor and was able to get home safely.

At night, around when the hands of the clock reached 10, I thought it was about time I left for home.*2 Thinking that I was not already at home *1, I started to get ready to leave the house. I put my coat on over my pajamas, put my wallet and smartphone in my bag, and told the boss that I would be excusing myself. I felt confused and really scared when he angrily grabbed my arm and said, “What are you talking about? This is your home.” The boss turned out to be my son, but I could not believe it.*4 My son is sweet and kind-hearted, but the person standing in front of me, who I did not know, was scolding me with an angry, ogre-like expression.

Yet the following day, after I finished my lunch, I walked to the shopping street, thinking that I had to go shopping for dinner as I always do. In fact, I no longer need to do shopping because my daughter, who lives nearby, prepares dinner for me every day now. However, at around that time of day, I still feel that I need to fix dinner for my daughter and son*1 and walk to the shopping street. I also enjoy chatting casually with storekeepers and friends who I see while I am out shopping.

I usually take the same route. First, the butcher offers me the best deals of the day. Next, the fish merchant tells me what fish are in season, and we talk about whether to have saury on the dinner table. I exchange small talk with a post office clerk, talk with my neighbors about kids at the vegetable store, and, only after all that, come back home.

I somehow remain empty-handed through all that shopping, but I guess it doesn’t really matter to me. It does not matter because all the people at the shopping street know me and always welcome me. Going there is very pleasant and relaxing. I like my time at the shopping street.

I cannot explain why, but, just like that, I make occasional trips through time and wander around in the old days. I always act like myself there. My family members scold me when it happens, but in the memories from my twenties, I am filled with energy and my heart feels as light as the heart of someone so young should feel.

Others seem to have trouble understanding me, but I go out alone because I have my own business to attend to and my own memories that I cherish. It is a pity that I forget why I am out walking by myself when others ask me why. I never get to explain my memories to them properly. At times, I do feel like taking a walk with my family or friends. Perhaps we could talk about old times while we are out together.

I recently made a memory box. It is filled with things that bring back my memories. I made it together with my family. When I pick things out of the box and stare at them, I feel as if I were taking a walk in my memories, without physically walking outside. I do sometimes feel like walking on real streets full of memories and head out, but walking around makes me tired for real.

At any rate, I want to continue spending time with everyone around me, talking about fond memories and laughing together.


When people with dementia enter the "Wanna Walk Hills",
the following 4 mental and physical dysfunctions might be at play.