A-Z Survival Guide to Life
R – Reminiscing
This is the eighteenth installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.
I was sitting in my office yesterday afternoon, thinking how I had had enough of the work day and was ready to come home. Being the chronic daydreamer that I am, I sat staring at the bulletin board with all the photos pinned up on the board. The majority of the photos of are you two, when you were little. Such cute boys you were, with chubby cheeks and twinkly eyes. My Dad used to say you guys were so full of life. I am not sure if that was his polite way of saying you two were so busy and you got into everything. Either way, he was right.
Staring at those photos I started to reminisce about all the things we have done together. There is a photo of one of you at Disneyworld. A man on stilts had walked up behind you and just stood there. I think you might have been slightly terrified by the enormity of this fellow, and you crossed your arms and stood fast, refusing to move. We had purchased 3 Day Passes for Disneyworld, but in the end we only spent about a day and a half in the park, because you guys decided you’d rather spend time at the amazing hotel pool with all the little water fountains and things to play with. Honestly, I was okay with that, because Disneyworld, with its lines and throngs of people had worn me out as well.
I began to think about all the other places we had been and things we had done.
Remember when we lived in Georgia, and one Halloween the three of us decided we would take a road trip to Savannah, on the pretense of looking for ghosts. We figured there would plenty to see in Savannah, on Halloween. We spent the day walking through the various squares, looking at the old buildings. We never did see a ghost, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there. We found a pub that served proper English breakfasts and one of you were slightly annoyed they didn’t have chicken nuggets but in the end you decided bangers were so much better than chicken nuggets anyway.
Remember when I took you to New Orleans one Spring Break. You were both in Elementary School and we had stopped in Hattiesburg to pick up your Grandmother. That was when one of you carried the sticky hands through New Orleans (see Sticky Hands Across New Orleans), dropping it a million times, and at the end of the day it was grey and greasy with dirt. Somehow you managed to fling it up in the hotel lobby and it stuck on their freshly painted cream wall, twenty feet above us, swinging like a dirty piece of snot, and there it stayed. I was horrified. The hotel staff managed to get it down, but it left a greasy stain on the cream wall, quite apparent if one knew where to look.
In New Orleans we took the Cemetery Tour and went to see the Voodoo Queens grave. That was the day we went to the Voodoo store, much to the horror of your Grandmother. One of you purchased Nightmare pills and swore they actually worked. They were little blue tabs you put in a glass of water by your bed and they were supposed to take the nightmares away. I always wondered why you had such horrible nightmares. Was it something I had done, or hadn’t done?
For dinner one night we went to Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. As we were finishing dessert, Dickie Brennan came over to our table and told you guys I didn’t have the money to pay for dinner and you were both going to have to wash dishes to pay for your meal. It was your turn to be horrified. He took you back into the kitchen, you met the Chef and the staff and had a fabulous time, and you were most relieved you didn’t actually have to do any washing up.
Or remember the time we took your friend and drove up to Oregon at the beginning of summer vacation. We went over to the coast and spent the day crabbing. We rented the traps and buckets at a little hut right on the wharf. There were other people crabbing that day. The air coming off the water was cold and biting, but you three were so busy throwing your traps out and pulling them in, none of you complained about the weather. Many of the people crabbing were locals, and were kind enough to show us how to do everything, how to throw the traps, how long to wait before pulling them back in, and how to differentiate the male from the female crabs. In the end, you boys managed to fill up several buckets with crabs. Since we had no way of cooking the crabs (which I am really glad about), we donated our catch to a family who was preparing for a reunion that afternoon. They invited us to the reunion, but we politely declined. What a great day that was. I remember watching you three, and trying to capture that memory of the look of pure joy on your faces, the sun on your cheeks, your shouts of glee when you pulled in the traps filled with the crabs. I can still smell the salt spray and hear your voices.
Remember when we took that massive road trip up to Massachusetts. We were living in Georgia at the time. We stopped in Asheville, to go to the Biltmore House. The house was beautiful, impressive and overwhelming. We spent most of our time in the gardens and became completely lost. One of you thought you were some kind of mighty navigator and knew how to read a map, but in the end managed to get us even more lost. We spent three hours wandering across butterfly fields, along streams and through the woods. It was so humid and hot, and we were sticky with sweat and grumpy. It was such a relief when we made it back to the car, and the air conditioning.
One of my more recent memories of our time together, is when we went and had High Tea on the Queen Mary down in Long Beach. You both thought the afternoon was going to suck, and the idea of spending the afternoon drinking tea was kind of lame. But you cannot deny your British heritage and in the end you admitted it was one of the most enjoyable things we did on that trip. You loved those little tiered tray of finger sandwiches and desserts, drinking tea, while sitting in the tearoom of the Queen Mary.
While I am sitting in my office, still staring at my bulletin board with all the photos, it occurred to me how many great memories we had created over the years. We haven’t really gone anywhere that amazing, we haven’t travelled internationally (which I kind of regret) but we have had the best time on our little adventures. And then I became a little bit sad. Because as I looked at the photos of when you were little, with your chubby cheeks and your smiles, I realized my time for creating your memories is almost over. It won’t be long, before it will be up to you to think up adventures of your own, with friends I may not know, and build memories that may not include me or your Dad. And although that brings a little tear to my eye and makes my nose kind of stuffy, I also realize I have laid a solid foundation upon which all your future memories will stand.