Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bringing Good Memories Into A New Year

The new year, it seems to me, is a time for memories. This is an old one.

I remember the sleek, aerodynamic shape of the chrome handle on the door. It had a round button that for years resisted my attempts to press it. I loved pressing my thumb into the round button anyway. It was smooth and shiny and perfectly deep and round.

I remember the white door. It opened with a comfortably hollow, metallic sound. The whole car was white. I think it had a red interior? It was a broad and flat car. It was Grandmother’s car. It was her Chrysler. I remember the interior bench seats that grabbed onto my coat and shifted it into awkward angles while I sat.

It smelled of sun-dried linens in that car. It smelled of grease, oil and leather. It smelled like Grandfather’s garage and like Grandmother’s face powder.

Standing on tiptoe in the vast driveway I could see through the rear passenger windows to the brick wall behind them. The wall was crusted with mineral samples sitting timelessly on cracking, sagging wooden shelves. The rocks and specimens were lined up in no particular order discernable to me but there were hundreds of them. Snow still nestled between the shadows of the largest ones. Water pooled aimlessly at the base of the wall and waited to evaporate in the aggressive sunlight.

Nearby I remember hearing the efficient yet graceful clunk of my grandmothers’ shoes. She always wore heels. Not pencil thin ones, never what we’d consider “sexy” ones, but heels just the same. Only when she was exercising by strolling around the nearby lake with Grandfather did she ever change into tennishoes. Her mathematically pleated skirt swished with perfect rhythm in the late October breeze. She always smiled. Her lipstick was a shade of blushing burgundy that I’ll never see again. The click of the lipstick tube closing up always struck me as one of her most effortlessly graceful moves and it bewitched me every time I heard it. Her nose always sniffed in couplets. Her handkerchief was always demurely tucked in her sleeve.

The bench seat bounced rapturously as the whole family crammed into the vehicle and the engine switched to life. My thumbs still remember the smooth, round buttons on the door handles.

I wore a bright red coat that day. It caught uncomfortably on the fabric of the bench seat. My mother wore jeans and I played with the woven diagonal patterns in the fabric across her knee. We could have been going anywhere that day, probably to luch at “the Colonel’s” or at “Silvers”. If it was a special day, maybe we were going to swim and then have a late lunch at that Furr’s Cafeteria where I always got to choose a bowl of cottage cheese AND those huge cubes of jell-o. If it was a very special day, we were off to the White Fence Farm restaurant. They had good cottage cheese there, too. After lunch, Grandfather would hold me up at the fence so I could pet the goats without fear of being eaten by them.

I remember these things. I remember all of them. These are the gossamer moments of childhood we never payed attention to, and for which I hope I’ll always have room in my muddled brains. I remember these things. Likely I remember many, many more of them than is healthy.

Today, in the first snowstorm we've had in months, I don’t care.

It’s almost new years’ eve. It’s time to remember things.

It’s time to remember good, good things.

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