This usually doesn't happen to me so soon into the change of seasons. The heat waves across the blacktopped street have barely stopped shimmering and the apples are still ripening their blush, we are still able to sit on the porch after supper, and nary a leaf has fallen. But here I am, here I found myself , in a swoon of memory and longing for...... for what I do not really know.
Perhaps it was a long and spirited conversation with someone this morning, an unlikely person to have shared such an intimate - and yet totally banal - review of times past. When I got out of bed this morning I could not have foreseen a half hour leaning against the kitchen wall and names tumbling out of our mouths and faces appearing like apparitions against the bare plaster and lath of the walls.
It set me up for the day, I suppose, triggered a melancholy that hastened the seasonal slide into longing that usually besets me by October's end. Oh, I soon forgot about in the whirlwind of the day, the usual strings of beads that clack orderly like a rosary in a nun's hand: dress, drive, depose, drive debrief, dine, undress, decompress.
But still, I held something else inside all day, not sure what it was, not even aware, really, that it was there or that I was protecting it, probing it, harboring the feeling the way one can slide into a cold, succumbing almost with pleasure into tissues and pillows and books. Yet, it also was a weight, not a dragging down weight, but more of a ballast, a tugging that straightened my head and aligned my mind and I realized: this is not at all what this is supposed to be.
I found an old movie on Netflix. George Cukor; Cary Grant the gorgeous dreamer; the younger vain, shallow sister love object; the sassy and deep Katherine Hepburn older sister madly crushing; a nursery at the top of a mansion decorated by Sister Parrish. It skated on thin ice, but Grant and Hepburn do a somersault onto a ship to France and all ends well. But at the beginning when they are at a Christmas church service and singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and the women wear hats and the men fedoras and bulky overcoats, I fight back a sob. Later, a glimpse of a huge, bulky double-doored behemoth of a refrigerator in the servant's kitchen causes tears to run down my cheeks. Perhaps too many late nights at work?
I locked my laptop in my desk drawer and took nothing home with me today but my purse. My grandson and daughter surprised me in the driveway with a slice of pizza and a salad. We sat on the landing to the stairs and played with the vacuum attachments as we pretended to vacuum.We pulled the retractable cord in and out of the vacuum and pressed the magic button that makes it retract like a whip about ten times. We fed the dogs bits of graham crackers from our hands and sat (at least he did) in a plastic storage box that became a train chugging across the bare floor of the living room. We looked at the fairy lights on the porch and were torn between counting them or going back to the stairs and playing with the vacuum hose while making sounds like an elephant.
But then we decided to return to the porch and he took my finger and led me to the corner where a foot high clay bear has lived all its life and no one took notice. We petted the bear on the nose. We repeated "bear". We petted the dark green stone frog that lives next to bear in the corner and said, "frog". We petted the cement baby rabbit that completes the corner trinity and finished with "bunny".
After a drink of water and a fling onto his mother's lap, he pulled me by finger back to the corner and we repeated the names of the corner trinity. Then he reached out a tiny finger to pet the bear's nose but was rather too afraid. I petted each head and repeated their names. He stood and bent from the waist until his face was against the stone floor and he opened his mouth and left a wet imprint in his form of a kiss, a pilgrim in adoration.
A warmth flooded me. I had a sensation of simultaneously plunging back in time and seeing the future like a bird on a wing.
I am a grandmother. I am a a granddaughter. I remember my grandmothers. I have a grandson. I was the mother. I am the grandmother.
I am the grandmother who had a bear, a frog, and a bunny in the corner of the porch and we used to pet their heads and feed them bits of graham crackers.
I am the grandmother.
I am the memory.
I am the future.
I will become the past.
I am the grandmother who had a bear, a frog, and a bunny in the corner of the porch and we petted their heads and fed them bits of graham crackers.
I am the memory I seek.