Today I read Pete's very exciting post (titled The ruins of the moment, no less), about tigers, travel, India and overall about uncertainty and impermanence, and this line, which refers to permanent damage done to a pair of binoculars, jumped out at me and stuck with me all day: They'd been a gift, many years ago, and with their damage, she moved a little further into the past. Hours later, I see that Keri has posted to her Flickr account A List of Things That Were Important To Me That No Longer Exist.
It got me to thinking about how painful and difficult it can be losing things, whether actual objects, rituals, feelings, or human beings. In childhood, this phenomenon seemed to me a tragedy. Now, I carry on mostly inwardly, gnashing my teeth and wailing silently. It's unbecoming and immature; nothing is forever. So it remains, or has remained until now, my secret.
What follows is a brief and partial list of things that I miss, things which move, every day, a little further into the past -- some silly, some serious, others just sentimental. I think this may become a regular installment.
* A book I had when I was 8 or 9, about the tiny homes created mostly in outdoor scenarios by the distant relatives of The Littles. [It seems not to be listed on that entry, but perhaps with some digging...] As I recall, my favorites were the family who built their home in and around tree roots, and the family who lived in a tree top.
* Getting up before dawn to walk out to the pasture with my grandfather to milk his cows. The air would be chilly and slightly damp, sweet-smelling, and every single star in the sky would still be visible. Papá Cacho, as we called him, would tell us a joke or a story, and then we would walk in silence awhile. He would begin milking, then let us sit down and have a go at it. I remember the sound of the milk hitting the tin bucket, still, as though it were yesterday instead of twenty-five years ago. I remember his laugh; my son laughs like him sometimes. I shared that with my brother, who is 2 years younger: I don't remember his laugh!, he said, probably more desperately than he meant to sound. I wish my husband and son could have met my Papá Cacho.
* Another book I had, around the same time -- this was one of many I stole from school -- called The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House. Come to think of it, that may have been its alternate title (for some reason children's books written in the 60s and 70s always had alternate titles. Why?). About a year ago, my brother cleaned out the garage of our family home, and I found the tattered remains of this book. It had been badly damaged by a flood and I couldn't bring myself to keep a rotting book. It involved many elements I was obsessed with: a main character who was a tomboy, time travel, fancy costumes and the 1800s. Also, like all good children's books it contained a tinge of a rather adult acknowledgement of the presence of evil in the world. The book scared me a little bit, but it was fantastic.
* My tiny friend Wesley. We had a very special bond, Wesley and I. His dad was the pastor at a church I used to attend. I haven't seen him since I stopped attending, about two years ago. The family has since moved out of state. Brave, tough little Wesley adored me, would melt right into me when he was around me, then go off shouting on his skateboard with his hoodlum friends. He made me want to be a mother. I hoped that my son would be like him. Luke is, of course, more wonderful by orders of magnitude -- but yes, he is a whole lot like Wesley. I think they would have eventually been friends.
* My friend Bob, arguing with me, teasing me, telling me stories, referring to me and his son jointly as The Bambeens, calling me childhood nicknames I unwisely told him about, lecturing me about my driving [You were going so fast, if anyone had slammed on their brakes you would have been fucked!! This is not a joke! Do you think this is a joke? I care about you! I want you to have a very good, very long life!] ,teaching me about music or sales or Antarctic exploration or really anything at all.
* Acting. I miss the exhilaration of being on the stage, the crackle of electricity when a scene is really working well, the quick yet intense sense of camraderie that builds up among the cast and crew. And the applause, of course. There are only a handful of things in life that compare to the thrill of being told by a complete stranger that your performance moved them to tears.
* The excitement of buying a new record. Oh, that was good. The cover art, the secret fun messages you could sometimes find in the liner notes, the addresses for requesting fan club information. It was so wonderful!