Last night Jer brought me a box of stuff. Books I had written in elementary school. “The Mysterious Furious Hill” is a real scream. Badges I’d earned that hadn’t made it on to my Girl Scout sash. A report card from the second grade. A picture of my preschool class at Prince of Peace, circa 1979-80. I held that photograph in my hand and I could feel these plastic egg shaped puzzle toys. I could remember Mrs. Fish at my house. She let me “fish” out my name tag with a fishing pole. A magnet, a stick, a string and a safety pin on a name tag. And thirty-one years later, I remember.
How do I remember this stuff? We had a wooden iron in the “playing house/kitchen” area in preschool. I know this because I saw a shelf with a row of fingerpaint in yellow and green containers (the Crayola finger paint containers are the same as they were circa 1980) and in the same moment I saw a wooden iron at Em’s preschool, and I could remember it. As clearly as if it was happening right now. I knew exactly what it would feel like to touch that iron.
One smell or one item can make the whole rest of the world disappear and I am gone… There is a bowling alley in Williamsburg that can take me back to 1985. It reeked of smoke last I was there and every time I’d open the door it was like it was League Bowling night and I was nine years old and hanging out with my brother in the video game room. And the lady in the babysitting area smelled like Vantage cigarettes and perm solution and had a flowered turtleneck.
The older Emily gets the more I remember… Walking through her elementary school I have mini flashbacks. The overwhelming smell of construction paper. The other day… the patrol belts did it to me. It’s like being a kid all over again.
It’s probably a blessing that every time Jer comes to visit he has recently unearthed an ancient treasure of mine. My head swims with memories of swim team and middle school and college plays and bumper stickers from a band I saw in 1999.
Instead of with memories of the guy I went out to play pool with in December of 1998, the man who bought me a surfboard for Christmas and a bicycle built for two. This man stands in my living room. Our daughter hanging from his neck. Our dog barking and racing around the room like the prodigal son has returned.
MQD, my husband, returns from the grocery store with ice cream for his pregnant wife. Our daughter smiles brightly at him and says “Daddy’s here, Dad!” Our dog greets him at the front door.