What We Did in Summer

My memory of my youth is a haze of fine particulate.

The PoolI don’t remember what I did in the summer as a kid.

Not specifically. I remember that I played outside with the neighbor kids and my siblings. We rode bikes and ran around. I went on vacation with my family. There was the library and many books.

But I didn’t have the forethought to record an “any old day” on 8mm or even take a series of snapshots. I have a photo from here or there, but usually those pics are from a cousin visiting, or a big baseball game or something “important.”

To remember the regular days, I have to rely on my memory. The sensory moments I have — hearing a low rumble of thunder, the smell of popcorn, a nip of the dog — send out bits of the past like shards of a breaking glass.

Right now I hear the blower of my parents’ a/c unit cranking away. This isn’t our old house, but this sound is a short leap to our old place, and the whole-house air conditioning unit my dad installed. It was red-white-and blue, sold to us the year of the bicentennial. I can hear again the whir of the fan as it came on, feel the heat rising out of the metal grate as I ducked beside it during some epic game of hide-and-seek.

The a/c which is on because of the soaking hot air. Mom has given in and is closing up. The sound of the “thuh-WUP thuh-WUP” follows as she goes from room to room, closing all the windows in the house. Those awning windows which swing open from the bottom. The swing arms had a bronze plastic stopper at the end of them that clicked into place when the window was shut. The name “Pella” was inscribed on the stopper. “Thuh-WUP! Thuh-WUP!”

A long few blades of grass — missed by Dad’s red-painted metal hand trimmers (too near the hoses and cords) — twitch at my ankle.

My memory of my youth is a haze of fine particulate. I watch a parade of disorganized details, but I cannot reconvene a day. 

Tonight I strained spagetti in a white plastic colander that my mother still uses. I made spagetti for my children on her stove at the new house tonight, and remarked that it must be the oldest plastic colander known to man.

My kids wanted to see it, to look at “the oldest plastic colander known to man” so after she did up the dishes, Mom took it out to show them. They weren’t impressed. But they couldn’t see the hundreds of spagetti meals that rested in that space, at the old house, in the double porcelain sink under the kitchen window, while the spin of my ordinary days went by.

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