Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anita's Attic: Wandering Down Memory Lane

Lately, I’ve been feeling oddly sentimental. I don’t know if it’s the season or because my kids are getting older, but I’ve been thinking about my own parents, how I don’t visit them enough. They’re only fifteen minutes away and while I talk to my mom every couple of days, I don’t drop in enough to spend time with them. I keep looking at my kids and thinking that in a few years, I'll be the one wishing my kids would come and visit. That makes me sad, but Austin reminds me that we’ll take advantage of the time and do the things we didn’t do when we first married because we started a family immediately. We'll travel and have grown up fun. I'm sure I'll insist on dragging the kids along on some trips, and if they don’t come visit me enough, then you can bet Mom will show up on their doorstep.

This streak of sentimentality isn’t just about my parents and children, I’ve been thinking about my own childhood. Out of the blue, a memory will pop into my mind of a special time or place. One nice memory is when my family would take Sunday drives. We would pack a picnic and drive along old country roads. I remember dragging my baby doll along, imagining myself married with my own family. Even back then, my imagination was always soaring.

Sometimes the entire family; cousins, aunts, and uncles would go. We would find a nice spot to picnic, and the kids would play games while the women chatted and the men hiked into the woods, seeing what kind of deer population there would be that year. It sounds like something from another century, not from just 35 years ago. On the way home, we were exhausted and starving. There weren’t fast food places on those lonely country roads, so we ate whatever was leftover from the picnic. Meat loaf sandwiches, cold green beans and cole slaw. I've even eaten green beans on a sandwich. Delicious.

Another fond memory is of this huge pine tree that was near our house Underneath, the ground was covered by years of fallen pine needles, and the branches hung all the way to the ground. Once you climbed inside, it was like a little hut hidden away from the world. I didn't spend a lot of time there, but something about the place stuck with me. I’ll always remember that tree. I've thought of going back to see if it's still there, but I'm sure I would be disappointed. The tree probably isn't nearly as grand as I remember.

There were all kinds of cool things there. Our house backed up to a national forest. My father and uncles had bought a big farm, divided it up, and each built a house. We would live there for a few years, then sell, find another place and do it all over again, so up until I was a teenager, there were always cousins nearby, playing in the woods and splashing in the streams. I learned to drive there, in an old Bronco on the long dusty drive that led to the house. I explored the mountains, carried abandoned pieces of furniture out of crumbling cabins and tried to fix them up. I remember this one wooden couch frame. I hauled that thing up the side of a mountain. I must have been insane. I found cushions somewhere and covered them in a beautiful teal fabric and kept it in my room.

I spent a lot of time with my cousin, Karen, my best friend, but when I wasn't hanging out with her, I was always searching for something intriguing. My brother and I found some old stones that looked like grave markers (at least in my mind they did) and I considered digging one up to see what was buried there, but I didn't have the nerve. I had heard rumors of lost treasure hidden hidden under a big mound in the woods, I can't even remember what it was supposed to be now, but occasionally I went searching. (OMG! I'm seeing a pattern in my stories...graves, hidden treasure!) I never found anything except old couches and possible graves. Well, there were the Indian arrowheads. The place was filled with them. I guess Indians had camped there. When we plowed our garden, we would find incredible arrowheads, along with a few bits of what looked like a pipe or tools. My brother and I have a collection that we share. We had fun times there. Sometimes our pet crows (my father had rescued them as babies) would circle around in the sky and land on our shoulders as we hiked and played. We didn't have all this technology that we have now. Other than friends, the great outdoors, and our imaginations, the biggest entertainment was an eight track player and Saturday morning cartoons.

I think as we age, we realize the importance of where we come from, of our families and friends. Time and people move on, but we always have those memories to make us smile fondly and sometimes cry. It's bittersweet to think that one day I'll be gone and my kids will sit and ponder their own childhoods. I want to make sure they have good memories to look back on. A day in our lives can seem so mundane, but those days create memories that will be present for a long time. Each one of us is living a page in history. We should make it count.

So that's my sentimental moment. Do you have any special memories that make you smile?


Kari Lee Townsend said...

Great post, Anita!

My family used to decide at the last minute to go to the drive-in movies. We would rush around to pack popcorn and drinks. Then we would scramble into our PJ's and bring pillows and blankets. Sometimes we kids would climp on top of our old station wagon to watch.

We took a lot of Sunday afternoon drives as well. I loved drives in the fall to look at the leaves.

Nowadays kids would never be content with that unless they had their movies and games and ipods and cell phones with them. With all that technology, who wants to look out a window?


Anita Clenney said...

Kari, that's a great memory. There was a drive in movie near my house when I was a teenager. I went there on one of my first dates. Geez that was a long time ago.

Donna Cummings said...

Those are great memories, Anita -- and it definitely influenced your writing! I love that. I wonder what kind of childhood memories can be built that are based on video games and TV -- LOL -- but perhaps those will somehow come in handy as technology keeps changing. I prefer the ones we have (the drive-in was the BEST, wasn't it? LOL)

Anonymous said...

my husband wanted to share a childhood memory with you,at christmas eve, i would sit on my papa's favorite chair that sat near the christmas tree, i sat there with a bag of fritos and a glass bottle of coke and watched the cathedral's choir singing christmas songs. i sat there alone while the rest of my families gathered in the kitchen. too much shatter made me nervous when i was little. it was the perfer, fantastic moments of christmas.
merry christmas

Anita Clenney said...

Donna, I worry about kids today. I don't think they have the same quality experiences. Sure, they can connect with people all over the world, and probably know more about computers than I do. And that's an amazing thing, but I don't think it has the same value as something created in your own head, inspired by your own imagination.

Yep, drive in movies were really cool. :)

Anita Clenney said...

Hi Anonymous, I can almost picture the little boy sitting there by the Christmas tree with his Fritos and Coke. I can remember when I was really young, sitting in my aunt's house with a new Christmas coloring book and trying to decide which page to color first. I can almost smell the crayons. It was so exciting.

Liz Lipperman said...

Great post, Anita. It makes me think about my childhood. I remember piling into my dad's car and driving to a place that seemed like miles and miles away but probably wasn't more that 10 or 15 and getting homemade ice cream. I ALWAYS got banana. Yum!

I grew up with a singing family. We sang every chance we got-doing dishes together, in the car, even at family weddings. I still can't hear "Still of the Night" without thinking of my sisters.

Thanks for the walk down your memory lane. It sounds wonderful.

Anita Clenney said...

Liz, I didn't know you sang. That's a great memory. Isn't is funny how things seem so different when we're kids? Farther and bigger. Banana ice cream...I don't think I've had it. Sounds yummy!