*Warning: long and rambly. Thank you in advance for attempting to read.
Day Six of Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson
What did you forget that you need to remember?
This morning I woke up clinging to a memory. No idea of my dreams but I knew the memory had emerged from my feelings of being on the inside looking out yesterday afternoon, of feeling excluded even if by choice. While neighbours chatted in the street, I hid myself away behind all the trees in my back yard with a word puzzle book, one of my favourite summer things to do, the thing that gets me out into the fresh air and keeps me there when I’m low on energy. I didn’t want to be visible out on the street. I didn’t want the neighbours to include me in small talk but I envied their ease in doing so as I heard them and peeked out through the front screen door.
Guess I took that image to bed with me because the memory I woke up with was from a summer holiday in 1972 when I was 11. Mam and Dad and I were staying in a farmhouse bed and breakfast in Wales. We shared breakfast and dinner/supper with the other people holidaying there at the same time. One family consisted of two parents and a girl, a few years older than me and the dishiest boy I had ever seen. Shiny black hair, long eyelashes and deep brown eyes. Adrian. Even his name made me swoon. Adrian, I discovered, was a year older than me. We shared shy secret smiles that made my stomach flip and sometimes we’d wink at each other. Even as I dreamed about him during the day, my stomach still flipped. Oh that feeling!
Sue, his sister, was super friendly but I’m not sure if Adrian and I even talked much. He wore a Tilly-like hat and filled it with badges of everywhere he went. I begged my parents to buy me a similar hat and badges of every town we visited so we had our hats in common and compared badges. One evening, halfway through our week’s stay there, I noticed Sue and Adrian playing in the garden. I sat on a window seat, a floor above them and watched, loving their laughter but when Sue glanced up at our window, I ducked behind a curtain. I knew they had seen me though as their game became silly and they’d ham it up then look up to see if I’d noticed. Sue beckoned and yelled at me to join them but I always shook my head. My parents encouraged me to play with them but I stayed stuck in the room behind the window, watching and laughing along with them night after night. Always too shy and awkward to go into the garden to play. Until our final night there and I did go into the garden. They included me immediately and Sue got permission for us all to go on a walk around the fields and hills behind the farmhouse. We shared secrets and fears and our lives, the three of us as we wandered around. Sue got Adrian to stand guard for us girls as we went pee a few trees apart and Sue instructed me on how to squat so my knickers didn’t get wet. We exchanged addresses and promises to write and keep in touch.
On the long drive home the radio broke my heart time and time again by playing “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by The Partridge Family. And I wondered why I had waited so long to meet them in the garden.
Looking back, I think more evenings with them might have dissolved my crush on Adrian and I loved that stomach flip feeling too much to lose it. We did share letters when we all got home but Adrian mentioned something about a toy box which turned me right off him although I still chose to remember our shy secret smiles and winks.
But perhaps the time of year and that feeling of being inside and looking out, feeling excluded even by my own choice, made me remember Sue and Adrian this morning, even before I read Renee’s prompts.
After reading Renee’s prompts, another memory surfaced: of a solitary Sunday walk through the streets of my town when I was about 13. I loved walking through the cemetery with its old sandstone walls and tall twisty-trunked trees and eroding gravestones (we had no yard) but I also walked around the streets. This one day a boy walking with an Alsation/German Shepherd somehow caught up with me. He was funny, a year older than me, and we walked for hours around parks and streets and across a bridge over a road which made his dog slink lower and lower until we got safely across. The boy's name was Dave and we talked easily and laughed and laughed. We held hands and kissed and the world swam and swayed. He went to my school and he asked me out. But I told him no; my dad would kill me for walking around with a boy I didn’t know (Dad, especially was super strict—I realise writing this now it may not appear that he was but my curfews were ridiculous and he really was very strict!). But Dave still went right out of his way to walk me safely home although I wouldn’t let him walk me to the door even when he offered to talk to Dad. Dave and I looked out for each other at school and smiled and said hi but over time the magic disappeared…as I write this I remember purposely passing his house a few times with my friends, thinking maybe I became a little obsessed with what I missed. Despite all that, I have this memory that resurfaced today, this nudge of connection.
If I look back without regret the memories sparkle more. Oh! An aha moment. They feel more free. I can accept them easier without cobwebby feelings, the emotion I felt in the actual kernel of the memory is crystal clear. Interesting. I even sat straighter as I wrote that.
A memory surfaced too of a moment with Harv, devoid of all that happened after and all that came before, separate from the terrible decision I had to make. Of one night when the woman across the street who everyone was scared of but who had taken a shine to me and my son gave us some freshly caught white fish. And Harv and I, who had no money, fried that fish in a cast iron pan and feasted and all that existed was sharing the delicious fried fish with each other that one moment in time. Nothing else in the world mattered.
I sometimes forget that moment, that feeling, but the immediacy of it is important. Again, holding it up and shaking all the regrets of the 5 ½ year relationship off it, make the moment prominent and make it sparkle. If time cannot be wasted, that moment reminds me to treasure the simplicities, that even when things look scary and worry threatens to overwhelm, we can still savour the now, this precise moment. What is right in this moment? What do we have right now in front of us? The feeling of having nothing and then unexpectedly having a delicious meal reminds me that I can be strong, that somehow things can work out, that I can revel in the moment and not always be worrying about tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Music, emotions and smells are terrific for me for dredging up memories. When I hear “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” I’m 11 again with my face pressed up against the back window of our car dreaming about Adrian.
As I reach the end of my day and I ponder my ‘wasted’ time of being outside doing word puzzles that no one else cares about, I remember the first summer after I graduated from university. I had forgotten that. I actually wanted to read again. I had missed reading for fun during all the college and university days so this summer when all the forced book learning was behind me, I decided to get a slew of books from the library, mainly biographies, and sit in the shade in the backyard and read. Just for fun. Just because I could. Just because nothing else was pressing except the warmth and laziness of a summer afternoon. And I realise now, that in sitting outside doing word puzzles while the rest of the world passes by, I’m honouring that freedom: having choices. No regret and no such thing as wasted time.
Day 235 #365daysofsybwriting #365daysofhaiku
Favourite tea towel
stained red by onion skins
Image description: a cotton tea towel with a printed picture and quote on it. The picture is of a stack of two books, one red and one green with a tea cup full of brown liquid on top. Coming from the cup is a cloud of a red stain which looks exactly like it's coming from the cup. This was accidental but it is what inspired today's haiku. It looks magical. Make a wish!Oh and the quote on the tea towel is from C.S. Lewis and it says: You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.