memories

What’s That Smell?

In keeping with the theme that I seem to have been creating here lately, I kept on thinking more about the things that trigger certain memories. Smells seem to be the most compelling trigger for me.

We have two rose bushes in front of the house. I didn’t plant them, they were here when we moved in. I had no idea what color they were going to bloom, so I was awaiting the display once spring came around. They turned out to be a beautiful yellow with just a hint of pink on the buds before they opened and very fragrant. In this case it was the color that brought back to mind my first “crush” in 4th or maybe 5th grade. For my birthday that year he gave me a choker necklace – I’m sure his mom picked it out – but it was a gold wire with 3 beads in the middle. They were heart shaped white beads with yellow roses painted on either side. To this day when I see yellow roses I am reminded of him.

Any time I smell burnt toast I am reminded of childhood and our neighbors across the street. They had a big family, 5 or 6 kids depending on who was home from school at the time. When ever I would go to their house, no matter the time of day, there was a lingering smell of burnt toast. When I smell that today, I can vividly picture their house in my mind, the plastic slip covers over the furniture, the vinyl chairs around the kitchen table, the laughter and shouting that came along with such a big family.

Honeysuckle is one of my all time favorite scents. The memories that surround that smell are many. Ask my parents or other close family members and they will certainly relate the story of my trying to make honeysuckle flower honey and wanting to sell it to the neighbors. When the process became to tedious, the friend that was helping me and I came up with the plan to stuff the baby food jars we were using with the blossoms and sell them as “do it yourself” kits. 5 cents a piece, it was a bargain for sure. And don’t you know, we sold out of those kits that same afternoon.

The late summer nights spent playing with friends, the air heavy with the scent of honeysuckle, cut grass, a charcoal grill, and the many other fragrances of flowers blooming around the neighborhood – any of those take me back to a simpler time. Because we lived close enough to the zoo we could hear the lions roar at night and the peacocks squawk during the day. The animal noises from the zoo, along with the whirring of the box fan in my window, was the soundtrack to my childhood bedtime routine.

Tell me, what are some of the smells, sounds, or tastes that bring back memories for you?

honeysuckle

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Memories, regrets, and choices…

A dear friend sent me a text a while back that said “Guess who I saw at my school today?” Now this is someone I have known for almost 30 years so the possibilities were many. When she told me who it was (and all the people in most of this story will remain nameless so as to not embarrass anyone other than myself), it brought back a flood of memories. Some good, some funny, some sad, and some that made me sit and wonder “what were you thinking?”

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, those experiences made me who I am today. While I may not have made great choices during this particular time in my life, I wouldn’t change those decisions. I didn’t break any laws, (unless you count the time I ran that red light with a cop behind me and another one next to me and somehow didn’t get a ticket), but I did break some hearts, I did manage to screw up the trust between people, and I did put myself through some hurt.

Even so, there were good things that came out of this time as well. Friendships that have stood the test, not only of time, but of good and bad judgment, or many miles and years in between. These are the friends that I know will always be there, till the end of our days, regardless of where life may take us. These are also the friends that will keep the secrets that we shared, the tears that were shed, the fears that were faced, and know where the bodies are buried. I treasure them all and I hope that they know that too.

Then there are those that should probably stay in the past. They say you should never google old loves. For the most part, they are right. There is usually a good reason they are “old” loves and the past should stay in the past. But over the past week I’ve been looking up childhood friends, reconnecting with some on facebook, and finding some have gone on to do some pretty cool things. This of course led me down the rabbit trail of googling said old boyfriends. Some have almost zero digital footprint, which I find amazing in these days of oversharing and everything being online. Others have volumes written about them, that fills many of the results pages of the google search. And then there was Harry.

Harry will be the only one I name because I came across this.

h stauffer (Click here to read the entire tribute)

I met Harry during my “Rocky Horror” days, or should I say weekends, in the early to mid 1980’s. I spent many Friday and Saturday nights at the old Kings Court Theater, dressing up in costume, acting out various parts or just participating in the audience. Many friendships were forged in this misfit band that came together for this crazy cult classic. And over time some of these friendships blossomed into more romantic relationships.

Regardless of how risque and revealing the costumes were, Harry was always the gentleman. Looking back on it, his was probably the most revealing of all, since he was pretty much running around in a gold speedo most of the night. But he always looked out for the girls in the group. He made sure we were walked to our cars, he hung out nearby, watching, and if it seemed like a guy was trying something inappropriate, he stepped in and made sure everything was okay. We dated for less than a year, and then I went off to college out of town. We tried to make the long distance relationship work, but it didn’t happen. It ended rather abruptly, a phone message on the dorm phone, saying goodbye. I was hurt, angry, miserable, and then life went on. Other guys came and went, school ended for the year, I went home, dropping out for the time and moving on to what would be the next phase in life.

About a year later, he called again on day, out of the blue, asking if we could meet. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, the old hurt came back to haunt me. But I agreed. We met up where I was working at the time and had a polite conversation, catching up on what had happened in both our lives. It made me realize just how much growing up I had done in that years time, and how much it seemed he hadn’t changed. I suppose the age difference between us (7 years) was a part of that. But the other part was just life experiences that I had gone through, both good and bad, that made me the person I was becoming. Abruptly I asked him to leave and not contact me again. I could see the hurt in his eyes, but he agreed and wished me well. With a hug, he was gone.

Fast forward 25+ years and you find me googling him, purely out of curiosity as to what ever became of him, hoping for the best, not knowing what I would find. I was saddened to read of his passing, even though it’s been over 10 years since he died and over 25 since the last time we spoke, the news was fresh to me. Reading over the tribute I see he lived a full life. He accomplished what he set out to do, making his part of the world a better place. His life and memory still touch many due to the fact that a scholarship has been created in his name.

And I think back over the time we had together, and I realize I have no regrets. I have memories of good times, funny stories, and the impact he made on my life. Because he was a part of my life, I made choices that have brought me to where I am today. And this is true of all of those that have crossed my path over the past 48 years. So I can honestly say, no regrets, just the memories are what I take with me throughout my life.

Miss me?

Okay, so I said a while ago that I was making some changes. Then life happened. And this little corner of my world was neglected and set aside. I did make some behind the scenes changes. Nothing that the average reader would notice. Yet, for some strange reason there has been a lot of traffic through here lately. Not sure why. But hello again. I’m back.

dandelion_small

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about memories. Not anything on a scientific level, as in what makes a memory, why do we remember some things but not others. But of actual memories. Events from my childhood, my high school years, and into my adult years. Although I’m still  not convinced I’m actually an adult yet. But that’s for another post.

I grew up in an amazing neighborhood. It was a dead end street. Everyone knew each other, all the kids played together. The older kids would babysit the younger kids, and as the younger ones grew up, the responsibility was passed on. We would walk to the zoo, play in the park nearby, run in and out of each others houses whenever we were awake. The parents would get together on someone’s front porch during summer evenings while the kids tore up and down the street on their bikes, played kick the can, hide and seek or any other game we could come up with. We weren’t worried about kidnappers, predators, or any other scary monster, other than the old man that lived in that house. I don’t know why all the kids were afraid of him. I’m sure he was a very nice man.

We had block parties every 4th of July. The street would be closed off, the kids would decorate their bikes for a parade, games were organized, the fire hydrant opened up for everyone to cool off in, and food would be served. One side of the street was responsible for dessert, the other side for the vegetable/salad/side dish. That responsibility would alternate every year, and you could always count on certain families to bring their specialty creations. Each house would bring their own meat to grill. Hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, kielbasa, chicken, anything that could be cooked on grill probably was represented there. We would set up tables and chairs in big rows. Families combining to make even bigger groups, until you couldn’t tell where one ended and the next one began. After the fun and festivities of the day, the evening would be filled with more games, a pinata, square dancing, sparklers, and even some fireworks. Laughter filled the night air, and no one wanted the day to end. I’m happy to say the tradition of the block party continues, with the old families that remain sharing the tradition with the new families that have embraced the neighborhood.

It definitely was a different time back then, and the neighborhood has gone through some changes. I’ve been gone from there for many years, as have many of the other families I grew up with. But taking a trip back through, walking down the old cobblestone street, there are still certain aspects that remain the same.  And while the street looks smaller to my grown up eyes, the memories are just as big as if it was yesterday, and not so many years ago.