I bought some hazelnut flavoured coffee recently. I don’t really know why; it just caught my eye. At home I opened the packet and BAM! As the smell hit me I was right back in the 1990s, when I first discovered hazelnut coffee. I remembered my friends from that time. Some are still friends; some are not. I remembered a restaurant we went to in Sydney that a now famous chef had just opened. The food was so good that we shared forkfuls of it with each other, round and round. We dropped a lot of it on the tablecloth and made such a mess that the waiters laughed at us and moved us to another table before we ordered dessert.

As I sipped my coffee and breathed in the hazelnut aroma I remembered a boy I’d met at that time, a friend of a friend who was visiting from England. We spent only one day together but I fell completely in love with him. We talked deeply and he taught me so much that twenty years later I still feel he influenced the way I look at the world. When we parted at the end of that day, never to meet again, I went home and lay on the carpet and sobbed and imagined that I could push our continents closer together on the map.

In those days I had no idea how to bring about the things I hoped for in life, how to make dreams happen. I had even less of an idea about how to pick myself up and start again if they didn’t. I was a walking, talking, functioning human being, yet I lived in my head. I was so busy dreaming that I let life pass me by. I probably missed a lot.

I drank my coffee and thought fondly of that person, who was me but is not me now. The memories seemed like stories I’d read a long time ago, or slides clicking through on a slide projector in my brain after years of lying quietly in a box in an attic until the day the smell of hazelnut coffee brought them back into the light.