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.