And the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls

Am I the only person who can be suddenly flooded with a memory and come up completely short and be absolutely transported to another place?

I was in the elevator on Friday, and suddenly the smell of a man I haven't seen in many years was there. I closed my eyes, and I was right back to being just shy of 20, in my first year of university, being with him. Haven't thought about him in forever.

On Sunday I was listening to my ipod. Suddenly I stopped and just sat. This song came on. Suddenly, I was in another city - one I only lived in for a half a year. I could smell cigarette smoke and street drugs and the angst of a dozen hurting people. For just a moment, a slide show of images and memories and places and smells took over my head.

I imagined certain things about my life when I was younger. If my life was a book, I had an idea of how to publish it. Not the the text and words, but certainly the feel of the pages in my hands and the size of the paper.

I had imagined a smallish book of sparse phrases in helvetica text on heavy grey paper. Short and dense. Filled with asceticism and quiet power and black and white images. Filled with stories of living to the fullest, dying young, making a splash. Given to angst and thought and self examination.

And that just isn't what I turned into. I had imagined that I would be much tougher, much more impervious, much less caught and held by the knocks of the world. I had not imagined that I would be so engaged in my community and so unhappy in my professional life. I had not imagined that I would be so buttoned up and conservative. I had not imagined that I would be so happily married, and so unhappy without a baby.

The book of my life looks different. The pages aren't the same colour, and the text is a more feminine and cursive script than I expected. The pages are thinner and messier and more flexible, some corners are turned down. The book is much thicker, and more loosely bound than I imagined. There are notes in the margins in a variety of scripts - points that say "This is crap" or "She's going to find out she's all wrong in a few moments, don't listen to her".

Perhaps what I find so shocking about the book I hold in my hands now is this: I cannot tell you how I got here. I think that I should know how I came to be where I am. I think those defining decisions should be much more clear. There should be a sign and a reminder and a requirement to pause and know that this decision will change your life.

I'm not suggesting that I would make different decisions in my adult life (although the man and the street drugs from above I could have lived without.). I consider myself beyond blessed to have Mr. Spit. I love our house, and I like my degree. ( the job I'm not so thrilled about, but we'll move on). But, I would have liked to have known that my life would like this. So that I wouldn't be so surprised. In the words of Simon and Garfunkle, I wonder, maybe those words of the prophets written on the subway wall were telling me what to expec.t

So tell me, what decisions in your life have looked so simple, so innocuous, that you didn't even think about making them, and they changed your life forever? And can smells and music take you to another place entirely?