A trip

A little ditty I remember my fifth grade teacher singing to us:

Make new friends, but keep the old
some are silver, and the others gold

I have been surfing the waves of nostalgia lately. The smallest things will bring to mind an old friend, an old place, a fuzzy memory. Some of these memories are precious; they waft through my mind as welcome as the steam from a mug of hot cocoa and curl my lips up in a secretive smile remembering a happenstance from years gone by. Others give me pangs of ill as I’m reminded of situations that brought me to tears or relationships gone awry.

~*~

The smell of Lily of the Valley flowers that grow in the corner of my backyard instantly transported me back to a big, old white house in Haddon Heights, NJ where I spent most of my elementary years. I remembered picking clutches of the tiny, sweet-smelling flowers and begging my mom to let us put them in colored water so we could watch them get striped. I checked the scar on my knee to see if it’s still there from the day I was late and running to catch the bus, tripping, and splitting it open on one of the granite stones on the pathway of the Christian Science Church’s gateway that we lived next door to.

~*~

I ate a cucumber today, but just one slice. It tasted so horrible in my mouth because it reminded me of a friendship that ended so strangely and un-amicably. How two people could fail so badly at trying to be friends still has me stumped and stymied. And I thanked God for the many, many miles of safety and silence between us.

~*~

Memorial Day found me pining for the seagull screech and toxic-hot sun of Ocean City, NJ. Memorial Day weekend was never-fail for bumping into an old school chum–yes, even the one who turned out to be a model and is so stunningly beautiful that she makes me feel bad about myself. Or a dear church family–meeting kids I used to babysit who are now way taller than I am. Missing Grandpop, who mostly sat in the rocking chair and presided over the TV clicker, but never failed to throw out a firecracker of a comment every here and there to keep us all on our toes and laughing ’til we hurt with both thumbs up.

~*~

As I struggled through “craft time” with my girls, I thought back to college how my roommate was blessed with the gift of art. She would doodle works of brilliance. My favorite piece was my name spelled out with each letter representing something significant to me–like the “f” shaped like a sprouting bean plant because she called me “bean”, or the “n” spotted like a cow because she knew my dad and I had a bevvy of bovine jokes constantly running like mad cow disease between the two of us. How my best piece of writing in college was simply describing an outing the two of us took one afternoon on some borrowed bikes.

~*~

I glanced at an article in the NY Times–something about wristwatches still being totally en vogue despite hard economic times. It made me wonder if the watch I gave that old high school beau really got “stolen by the plumber”, or if he just really didn’t like it (or me?) and decided to ditch it.

~*~

When a family member asked if my son was having a “kindergarten graduation”, that really took me back. I remember mine so clearly. I was determined to wear a long and beautiful dress (my daughters DO come by it honestly!), I sang “Only God Can Count the Apples in a Single Seed”, and took a bonnet to slip on my head before my trio. I was SURE I needed to sing a song about God and apples wearing a bonnet. I will never forget Mrs. Rinker, and many of my classmates, whom I graduated 8th grade with before being launched into the oh-so-tumultuous high school years.

~*~

After a message from an old college friend, I shuddered thinking back to my senior year living arrangements. Where I secretly hammered a nail in the window frame to try to keep a housemate’s boyfriend from sneaking in the front window into her room at night–it was easier to hammer a nail than confront the situation.

~*~

A lady who shopped our recent garage sale mentioned that her daughter is struggling with MS. It reminded me of a Jen I was schoolmates with whose mom had MS. How when I went to her house to play, I always found her life so intriguing. My parents prepped me so that I wouldn’t say or ask anything about her father because, apparently, he wasn’t married to her mother any more or at least didn’t live in that house. There were decorative plates hanging all along the wall–the kind you order off TV or from an ad in a magazine. Her mom used a “Water Pic” to brush her teeth and quirkily always measured 1/4 cup of grape juice into a tall glass of water before she drank it. Most vivid to me, though, was that this Jen had over 100 bottles of nail polish.

~*~

My brothers always accuse me of “making up memories”. I have so many stories of our childhood that I remember so vividly that they have not one shred of memory about. So whether or not any of these vignettes are even true, I guess you will never know.

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