09/27/2013 09:07 am ET Updated Nov 27, 2013

What Takes You Right Back?

I was cleaning out my car this morning and found some old CDs hidden underneath the front passenger seat, so I did what anyone in my position would do: I loaded one up and went for a drive.

Track one of "Mindy's mix" was an old acoustic version of Sarah McLachlan's "Do What You Have to Do." I immediately got giddy and started belting along, totally in the moment. I'm sure I looked completely sane to the other drivers on the road.

Don't you just love how a certain song or smell or moment triggers a floodgate of memories and takes you right back to that moment? That Sarah McLachlan song did it for me. All of the sudden, it's 1998 and I'm 17. I'm in my car with my girlfriends and we're soaking in the entire Surfacing album. It's truly magical.

These moments are usually related to a sense, so I'm listing the top five memories that I have with each sense.

1) Sight: Driving down my childhood street.
The house where I made most of my childhood memories is about 20 minutes away from where I currently live. If I'm ever in the area, I always try and do a drive-by down my old street. Have you ever done this? Is it just me or does everything -- the houses, the trees, the street -- seem so much smaller?

2) Sound: The songs of my youth.
I hear anything that's old-school Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Jewel, Lisa Loeb or Alanis Morissette and I become a teenager again. Emotional angst and all.

3) Touch: My mom's soft hands.
My mom is one fierce Asian lady, so it's hard to believe she's got a soft side, but she does. It only comes out when I'm not feeling well. Her hands, usually so strong and blade-like, become soft and inviting as she takes me in and offers soft, soothing strokes. I can feel absolutely awful and disgusting, but one big nurturing mom hug from her and I start to instantly feel better.

4) Smell: Lemon-pear-basil.
I studied abroad in Paris the summer before my senior year of college. Being 20 and naive, I didn't know what kind of body soap I'd find in France so I packed a huge bottle of this lemon-pear-basil bath gel from Bath and Body Works. I used it every day for the three months that I was there. I don't know if Bath and Body Works still sells the scent, but it was on shelves a few years ago. Every time I'd pass by one of their stores, I'd walk in, find the scent and take a big whiff. I was immediately transported back to the cobblestone streets of Paris. Why am I suddenly craving a crepe and cigarette?

5) Taste: Soup, made with love.
This one is also a shout-out to my mom. As a child, when I would get sick she would make this creamy chicken-rice porridge that had big cloves of soft garlic mixed in. Her soup was amazing. This wasn't your typical Campbell's pop-open-the-can-pour-in-a-bowl-and-nuke-it-for-a-minute chicken noodle soup. No. My mom is better than that. She would make it from scratch, not even cooking the rice first, and stir for what seemed like hours, until it was the perfect texture. A few years ago, I asked her for the recipe. "Recipe?" she said. "What recipe? I just... make it."

So, this brings me to you. What sight, sound, touch, smell or taste have you come across that takes you right back to a certain moment in your life?

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