Sunday, June 03, 2007
I'm thinking the onset of warm weather might account for these nearly overwhelming fits of nostalgia I seem prone to lately. Enough to make me a little sad. Enough to make my chest hurt. I’m, of course, nostalgic for our old house on Pennsylvania Avenue and the kiddie pool in the back yard. The garage sales. The clotheslines. Popsicles. Double dutch, Swingsets. In the newer house, rollerskating in the cool, damp basement (no concrete outside, only gravel, even still.) Brown wooly caterpillars we’d catch that would make our hands itch. Lightning bugs. Don’t even get me started on drive-in movies.
Summers in Wisconsin. The old canvas pup tent me and my sister slept in. My paternal grandmother’s Winnebago. Ham sandwhiches and ice tea in tall plastic orange tumblers. Sand everywhere and blue flipflops, my older cousins washing their hair with beer and eggs and sometimes in the river. Shiny intertubes and pink swimsuits. Tire swings and pig roasts. Boat rides, where my mother, arming us against boredom, bought us magic slates and cap guns, plastic sunglasses and coloring books to entertain us while she and my dad fished. How I loved it when it rained and they put the canvas top up. Paper dolls. Fireworks and my fear of docks. Long rides to the ferry and ice cream. Fleetwood Mac or Charlie Daniels on the radio. Cat tails and the green weave of metal lawn chairs.
Or, on my mother’s side, picking strawberries and green uneatable apples. My grandmother making popcorn on the stove while I played with her costume jewelry. Mice under the bathtub and how her towels smelled. Her love of PBR and honky tonks. (this was the fun grandmother, the widowed one, who’d gotten married and raised a family when she was fifteen, that used to take me into bars with her and occasionally let me drink sips of beer.) Or my aunts farmhouse, its windmill, and the flattest land around I’d ever seen. It’s thick blue velvet curtains, haze of cigarette smoke , always some bird loose in the house. My odd fascination with my older cousin’s Miss Boone County tiara, which I would wear for hours.
In the summer I aways seemed to be wearing those weird sun-suits with pinchy elastic at the thigh that tied over my shoulders. I was always pretty much always sporting a sunburn and those spherical pony tail holders. (which when they weren’t in my hair sometimes always found there way into my mouth.) We’d go to the Wisconsin State Fair, and I’d ride the tilt-a whirl three times, buy glittery batons or those little faux leather jordache purses, stuff myself on saltwater taffy. We’d go to zoos and get those wax animals that always got crushed or broken somehow in the car on the way home. The pool we had for a few years, the rubbery goggles, doing endless somersaults, my blonde hair turning green from the chlorine.
Later, in high school, during the summer I would sleep til the afternoon. Watch soap operas, read trashy novels, then spend the day in the pool. (to my mother’s consternation). My college schedule was the same, sleep til one, though I did give up the soaps and was reading less trash. I’d also haul all my poetry stuff in a big envelope box out to the deck and spend hours there (thankfully in the shade at this point), eating peanut butter sandwiches, drinking iced tea, and waiting on submissions I was just starting to send out.