Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer, Summer, Summer

The other day after I cut my grass, in the scorching, all-of-a-sudden-north-carolina heat, I spent a minute or two standing by my mailbox, looking at my yard and was overwhelmed by the smell of summer. The just-cut grass, the melty smell of asphalt, sweat, a grill somewhere nearby, sunscreen.

I remembered the summer they repaved the main road by my house, the way the new asphalt stuck to/melted into the bottom of my flip flops, making me carry around pieces of Hayfield Road all summer.

Later that night I made a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. Although not the wonder bread slathered in butter, Kraft singles laden sandwich of my youth (soy cheese and sprouted grain bread, thank you very much) I sat on the couch eating it, pulling it into pieces and stretching the cheese out, wrapping it around my fingers, just like Maureen Mulroy and I used to do on the curb in front of my house when were BFFs in grade school.

The pringles I had with my sandwich reminded me of a campground in Ladysmith, Virginia, my brother and I making duckbills out of pringles and seeing how many verses of "John Jacob Jingle-Heimer-Schmidt" we could get through before they broke. He always won.

My mom pulled a leech off my calf that summer. I caught my first fish at that campground. A bluegill.

Tonight I went shopping for essentials (ice cream) and as I walked through the aisles, I saw marshmallow fluff. Another curbside sandwich shared with grade school friends. (We also "ate" powdered Kool-Aid, and no I don't know why).

I made my ice cream tonight and used caramel topping and that made me think of my dad., who used to eat Brach's caramels like they were going to stop making them (did they stop making them?) I remember the bags that had umpteen "regular" caramels and a smattering of "dark" caramels. He loved those the best. I remember I thought those were like black jellybeans, and I avoided them like the plague - something my father probably adored.

I remembered catching fireflies at night in the Brubakers front yard. The color of Chips t-shirt the night he tripped and broke his wrist - goldenrod yellow.

I can't figure out why these things stand out so clearly. I don't recall my dad ever grilling - not once - Maureen and I had a huge falling out later in life and aren't friends anymore, the jar of marshmallow fluff turns my stomach just looking at it, and why is it important to remember that my dad loved caramels that may or may not exist anymore. Chip Brubaker was the neighborhood kid that caught me smoking my first cigarette and told my parents - I was not a fan of his for a very long time after that.

I've had some incredible summers since I was 11. Really I have. I just don't remember them with the clarity I have of my childhood summers that bothers me.
What happens, exactly? Did I just stop paying attention to these little things as I got older? Is my brain so cluttered with gas prices, and bill paying, and stupid work projects, and did I unplug the flat iron, and am I going to be able to get my dog ready for the trial in the fall and, and and.... that I can't hold onto the memories that are happening right now?

I don't know the answer, but I do not like it. I want to remember the way my friends laugh, and the color of their t-shirts, and what we were eating when someone told that really bad joke. I want to remember the way the horse smells after a ride, and the way the top of his neck feels, the part just under his mane, the way a cold beer tastes sitting on a beach with my girlfriends and their dogs, and the bskillion little, insignificant things I haven't thought of yet -- things I won't be able to think of because I won't know what they are until they are happening.

These are the people and times I've created, they should be remembered with the reverence and wonder of an 11 year old with asphalt stuck in her flip flops catching fire flies in a yard on Bing court.


kenju said...

What a beautiful post this is!! You know, you will remember those things about your friends, but you won't really remember them until you are 60 or more. Then they will stand out just like your childhood summers do.

Wordnerd said...

I truly love this post, because I have the same memories. I really think we see those days with such clarity because that was all there was -- we weren't also having to think about mortgages, and deadlines, and the phone bill, and work, and... Know what I mean? Those days were clear and bright to us at a time that we were most impressionable.

Thanks for sharing these thoughts -- you sent me home again. :)

Her Roo-ness said...

love this, J.

i think you do remember more than you think you do.

i know you can remember how bad your belly must have hurt from laughing sprawled out on a bed when things with internet friends gets weird.

you just need to smell some donkey bar b q to spark that memory.....

Mojo said...

Wow J... that was ... for once, words fail me. And all I can remember from those long ago summers is the trucks that used to patrol the neighborhood spewing clouds of something (probably) ghastly to control the mosquito population. And how my kid brother and I used to play hide-and-seek in the fog with the rest of the kids on the block.

Come to think of it, that probably explains a lot of things.

Cravey said...

Kenju - awww! Thanks! I hope you're right and I'm able to remember them just like you predict.

Miss Nerd - we're closer than we think for never having met, eh?

Roo - Well someTHINGS I can't forget from that trip. How many of us are planning on candles for Staci for the beach house trip?

Mojo - um.. yeah.. that is a little scary.. and perhaps does 'splain a few things about you.

All of you THANKS.. I kept thinking I was being overly sentimental...


tiff said...

JC dear - you're already remembering them. Our cherished memories of youth stand out in their singularity, but be sure that for each one thing remembered, a thousand other things slid by unnoticed or remembered.

Beautiful memories are to be treasured. Beautiful moments are still to come. Standing in your front yard on a hot summer night, that moment is a memory already!

And I'm wearing my tie-dye pants and a white tee case you wanted to remember this moment. ;)

one little acorn said...

What a great post. I love it because it's so true, how little things can trigger glimpses to past moments in time and you have captured it perfectly. And being overwhelmed by the smell of summer...

I am sitting in my front room with the heater on and looking outside to a gloomy winter's day and at just 9 days into winter, I am starting to fret and wish for your summer days! Enjoy!

I am a first time visitor (via Just Run) and I love your writing. The story of your horse is fabulous - especially that you kept it secret then, and for so many years later! Amazing.

one little acorn said...
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justrun said...

Ah, this is a fantastic post.
I'm so with you on this, too. I get so caught up in the moment and the mess and forget that maybe this is something I should be relishing and remembering and not just doing.

Part of me hopes that I really am absorbing it all though, even if I don't realize it right now.

Kingfisher said...

Wow. This was . . . Wow.

This is the best thing I've read all year. WRite more when you remember them.

Thank you.

rennratt said...

I am wearing a black t-shirt, drinking coffee, and checking in from Northern Maine.

Well spoken, my friend.

The rest of us are right there with you!