Saturday, 22 February 2014

In Which Nostalgia Gets the Better of Me

Yesterday I watched a video clip online of my niece swing dancing with her brother at her wedding, and it made both joyful and sad. Joyful because of the sweet moment, and sad because these beautiful children are grown up and leaving home. Somehow it's okay if my children get older. But I don't want my sister's kids to get older. I want them to stay little and cuddly and home. Is that weird? Maybe because I see my kids all the time, I'm more accepting of the gradual aging. But since I only see my sister's children every few years, the changes in them seem more sudden and surprising. I feel the cozy past slipping through my fingers, and I want to reel it back in and return things to how they used to be.

The whole thing made me slip into reveries about my own childhood---which was idyllic---and it's as if I've been watching video clips in my head for the past twenty-four hours. Snuggling between my older brother and sister in the roll-away bed in the carport on a summer evening, reading Tolkien by flashlight. Squished into the recliner beside my grandpa, watching Johnny Cash on TV. Climbing around on the slippery-crunchy haystack, trying to get a peep at the chicks without provoking the mother hen into chasing me. Zipping down what seemed like a mountain but was probably a little hill on the sled with my dad, hearing the rackety sound of the metal runners on the snow. The two tiny frogs named Kermit and Herbert which I kept in a large jar of water in the laundry room. Playing on the swing set in the backyard, dreaming up stories in my head and putting myself in them (Jeck Rex who lived in the mountains with his pet cougar---if I'd been watching Grizzly Adams---or Jeck Rex the orphan who smuggled Jewish children out of Nazi Germany---if I'd been reading Snow Treasure). The sound of Mrs. Condie's voice as she read us The Great Brain. Or sitting with our heads on our desks listening to Mr. Madsen read us Little Britches. (Really, do teachers read aloud to their students anymore? They should.) The spidery water skeeters in the irrigation ditch in front of the house in Idaho. The smell of sage brush and baked earth and the rattle of grasshoppers in the dry summer weeds. The creamy goodness of buttermilk candy poured out onto waxed paper in golden puddles. Oh golly, I need to go make some of that right now.

I know the whole argument that if you live too much in the past, you will miss the joy of the present. I believe that. But really, you can't beat the beautiful childhood I had.


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