A Little Of This And A Little Of That: July 28, 2012

by Paul McKinney

It always seemed sunny back then. Was everyday a sunny Sunday? No, not really. Maybe it’s just a made up vision of growing up. If lucky, looking back and remembering is like viewing life with a pair of rose-colored glasses. It really was like that, wasn’t it?

I’m asked all the time, “How do you remember all that stuff you write about?”

“You have such a good memory,” some say.

I laugh in response, “Crazy isn’t it, I can’t keep track of my car keys today. And forget about finding my cell phone in time, before the call goes to message.”

But those images of growing up still linger ever so clear in my mind.

It was a different time growing up back then. Wasn’t it? Of course it was. No two times are the same for anyone are they?  Emotions, a good feeling, a sad moment are important benchmarks that form a bridge from then to now. Kind of like Hansel and Gretel time travelers; a little bit here and a little bit there will hopefully lead us back “home.” We all look for connections, don’t we? Trying to make sense of where it all went is what we do as we get older and wiser, I guess.

How far back can your mind travel? Have you ever tried to dig back to the farthest time you can remember? For me, it’s like a snapshot. Not like the ones in the old family picture books that are black and white and real fuzzy.

My first image is of being about three years old. It is summer time and I am outside with my dad. It must be Sunday because my dad is home. He is washing the car with the leaky garden hose in hand. He is in his bare feet. His long trousers have the legs rolled up to his knees, and he is wearing his standard white T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

He is smiling at me. And he is whistling. My dad loved to whistle, especially when he was washing his car.

My mind pictures are sharp and in full NBC color, vivid yet fluid. People move in and out of them; the action more like a slow motion picture. And I become the dialogue coach, overlaying sentences as I think I remember what was said.

Those first clips always seem to revolve around home and family. The house, a cute little bungalow sits at the top of a slight knoll in the middle of the block. It is painted a glossy white over wooden worn clapboards, and is trimmed in the deepest of red paint. It stands out in my mind solid and secure.

A set of sturdy cement stairs lead up from the street, with 12 steps in all. I know because I count them walking up and walking down each time I pass. The sidewalk stretches six lengths from the stairs to the grey wooden front steps of the house. I know because I count them while playing hopscotch on a warm summer’s day. I recite my favorite chant, “if you step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back. (She’s 94 today. I guess the spell didn’t work.)

At first, the long driveway was not paved, just two dirt paths gliding up the hill toward the garage. The little patch of green and yellow grass that ran inside always had to be mowed. I know, I did it every week and resented it so. I would do it with a quiet smile on my face, if I could go back now.

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