Nostalgia

Posted on | October 2, 2019 | No Comments

Maybe it’s exhaustion. Maybe it’s old(er) age. Maybe it’s a combination of both, but lately I’ve been really nostalgic for places and the people who filled them. 
 
I find myself longing for a few more moments in the wooden play house in the back yard at Pleasant Drive, talking on the unhooked pay phone to Ralph Macchio or Ricky Schroeder. I want a day down at the creek with tadpoles in the back of the neighborhood and spinning around on the merry go round until our stomachs hurt. I can still feel the nervous excitement of approaching Danny Fonorow’s house at Halloween and the rush of joy that came with sledding down the Pleasant Drive hill in the winter. 
 
There’s an indescribable ache where there used to be a garage in Tarboro with cold sodas in a small fridge inside the door and a front porch with plastic green grass “carpet.” I can still hear the creak and pull of the small attic door where I was certain immeasurable treasures were held and the feeling of the cold piano keys against my fingers. I remember the smell of DA’s fried cornbread cooking while we all milled around the tiny kitchen, asking when lunch would be ready, and the grunt and sigh of my Granddaddy lumbering up from his recliner to come to the table for the blessing. I can see my Grandma sitting, prim and proper with ankles crossed on the “good” sofa in the living room, her head tossed slightly back to keep in the giggles while the rest of us held court at her feet, each seeing who could make her laugh more and knowing it would always be my Granddaddy.                     
 
I’ve dreamed about sitting with my Granny in the rocking recliners with arm covers, staring aimlessly across the warm living room and smelling the waft of laundry from her sunken laundry room that terrified me as a child. I can hear the chime of her bird clock, the shuffle of her feet on the tile floors, and the smell of my Papa as he came home from work: a mingling of Juicy Fruit gum and the heavy weight of asphalt. If I close my eyes, I can see the glass doors of the shower in the guest bath; the one with the pink crocheted doll atop the toilet paper roll, and the soap with a red rose. I remember the Christmas when Papa bought the dog that flipped over when you turned it on and the sound of him laughing as he watched it and I still try to make pinto bean and tomato sandwiches the way Granny did.
It’s never the same though, is it.                                                                                                      
Growing older is no joke. It often feels like labored punch to the stomach where all your breath seeps out in slow motion: First you forget one thing, then another. One day you wake up and take a look in the mirror and realize you’re not the 26 year old you think you are. There are lines where things used to be smooth. There are white hairs. There are aches and pains and stings that were never there before. You wear your favorite heels only to find they now hurt your feet. You put on a much loved dress only to suddenly feel it’s entirely too short for “a woman of your age.”                                                                                                           
You look at your children and try to see yourself as they see you… old, wise, “adult”… but you fail. You just can’t. It’s their time now… their moments to remember. Their memories to make. I feel like I’ve gone from center stage to a supporting role with the knowledge that soon I’ll be merely an extra. God willing, I’ll be the grandma in someone else’s memory… the place they long for when they look back on their own life.
I’ve always said I wanted to grow old gracefully… but honestly? Aging is so very hard to accept. I am not ready to play a supporting role. I still believe there are dreams left to chase and spaces to create. I’m just not ready for this… how do we pause?

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