Just Googled my high school choir director and learned that she retired in 2012. That makes me feel extra old… but glad for her, anyway.
I’ve written about this a few times before — probably because the memory is so vivid and special to me.
– – – – –
One of my first vague memories is of being cradled in my mother’s arms, standing in the open front doorway. I could smell and feel the rain, and hear it, and hear the thunder, and all the while my mother was telling me how beautiful it was.
– – – – –
I remember the feel of the mist on my face, the sound of occasional thunder and the flash of lightning, the constant patter of rain, and the clean smell on the wind. As I got older, Mom would stand with me at the door, and I remember her telling me how pretty the rain is.
– – – – –
When I got a little older — say, school-age, or close to it — we’d watch for the flashes of lightning, then count: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand (which I later learned is backward from how most people do it), then either nod knowingly or jump, startled, when the thunder finally rumbled or cracked its reply.
I grew to love thunderstorms. The smell of them, the sound, the beautiful contrast between the clouds and the land. The beauty, the drama. When we moved to Florida, I discovered that it would thunderstorm every afternoon during part of the year. I would sit in my bedroom, listening to music or reading, smelling the rain and watching it sheet down the open casement window.
Later on, I learned that my mother had purposefully instilled in me that love of storms, because she had been made so afraid of them by one particular incident in her childhood. Even so, I’m glad she did.
Thunderstorms, to me, are moments when I can stand at the open door, or sit on the front porch, or gaze out an open window, and let my senses take over. I breathe in that clean-smelling air, feel the mist on my face, and I’m four years old again, and there’s nothing but me and the rain.
– – – – –
Last night, Connor woke up around 4:30am, scared of the thunderstorm. I hugged him while he told me that the thunder was scary.
“I think it’s pretty,” I said.
He thought about it. “I think so, too,” he agreed. Then he remembered what he’d learned in preschool earlier in the week, and his eyes lit up: “And when the rain is done, your flowers will be growed!”
Tonight, though, he wasn’t so sure the thunder was pretty. So, I pulled up the blinds, opened the window, and knelt with him at the windowsill behind the curtains as we watched the rain. The breeze carried the scent of rain into the bedroom, and I felt a fine mist on my face for just a moment.
I put my arm around his waist. “The rain is so pretty,” I said. He agreed, and we watched the dark clouds roll by, and watched the rain fall in puddles on the driveway.
“Mommy, look!” he said. “You forgot to put those sticks in the garbage!”
Ah, well. It was a nice moment while it lasted.
Planned to post a #tbt to my blog tonight, but couldn’t find a picture that plucked a nostalgic happy chord. Just not feeling it, I guess.
So, what happened last year? Not nearly as many life-altering events as the past couple of years, thankfully — not to say that things still weren’t interesting at times.
(And, yes, I know I’m getting this out a little later than usual… but at least it’s still January, right?)
During the winter of 2013-2014 (aka the Polar Vortex), Toledo got 7 feet and 2 inches of snow in total — that’s over two feet more than normal — and saw temps dipping down to -15°F. It was a particularly miserable and treacherous winter, and it killed several of my plants to boot.
We bought furniture in the spring. In March, we bought a new bed: a California King. We’re sleeping better (for the most part), and we’re no longer stealing each other’s blankies, since there’s plenty to go around. Then, in April, we bought furniture for our sunroom, so we can all properly enjoy the outdoors indoors.
In April, I got in my second-ever car accident — as with the first one, through no fault of my own. A semi driver didn’t judge the wet conditions properly and collided with me from behind on the expressway. That resulted in my first-ever trip to the ER, my first CT scan, my first case of whiplash, and my first dealings with injury claims representatives. I am now paranoid of not only being in another driver’s blind spot, but of leaving assured clear distance and being tailgated.
In May, we held our 2nd Annual Memorial Day Weekend Shindig. Ten adults and two toddlers hanging out in the sunroom on the new furniture, enjoying sausages and hot dogs and snacks and desserts and one another’s company. Good times.
In August, Toledo’s water supply got overrun with blue-green algae and its byproducts, rendering it unsafe to drink for a full weekend. Mass panic ensued all over town, of course. Aaron went out and got jugs of well water from a friend’s house, then handily found plenty of bottled water at the store, anyway.
All through the spring and summer, I got really into my gardening. I took two full days and two half-days off of work specifically for gardening purposes, in addition to spending many Saturday naptimes outside. I managed to rid my beds of the invasive Maypop vine (mostly) and get the front fence looking neat and tidy.
In September, after one of my last gardening days of the season, I got into some trumpet vine and had a severe allergic reaction. A trip to urgent care got me a steroid shot, plus steroid pills and antihistamines, and the knowledge that I am exceptionally allergic to trumpet creeper. Luckily, a co-worker’s son (who isn’t allergic) came to my house and removed it for me, taking it home and transplanting it at his own house.
Connor enjoyed his first real Halloween this year! On October 30th, he and I went to Harper’s house and handed out candy and enjoyed beautiful weather and a fire in the firepit. On Halloween, Daddy stayed home from work and we went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood in the rain. We only hit two houses, but Connor had a great time, all the same.
In November, I got new glasses for the first time in about four years. My prescription actually hadn’t changed much at all.
On Thanksgiving, we drove about 2.5 hours to Grammy’s apartment and had a Very Nice Time. Aaron’s brother came along, and Uncle Phil made a cameo appearance. It was the first time we’d seen my Mom’s apartment, and hopefully it won’t be the last.
I’m putting me at about age seven in this picture, so it’s probably the Summer of 1983. There are several pictures of me from this particular trip to the playground, but I think this one is my favorite. It captures so much… if you know what to look for.
I was a happy kid, for the most part, except for kids teasing me about my weight. Kids called me fat, but I was mostly just big overall. I was the tallest girl (or the second-tallest) in my grade for most of elementary school, and I was no beanpole. I wasn’t obese, though, so kids were just being kids when they told me that I was “as big as the whole universe.”
Mom frequently told me to be careful that I didn’t “fall and bust [my] head open,” and you can see that right hand holding on to the jungle gym (or was it the tall slide?) to be sure of just that.
That waist-length hair was so much a part of who I was for so long. I was the girl with the long hair. (And look at that fantastic color!) I didn’t get it cut until we moved to Florida the next year and I picked up head lice, at which point we cut probably six inches off to make the lice-combing easier. I was devastated to only have hair down to my shoulder blades.
And, really. It’s the ’80s. Just look at those shorts.
The photo finisher’s date stamp says Dec 1978, and I see a scrap of Christmas wrapping paper in the picture, so this must be Christmas 1978, and I must be 2½ here. I had that Mickey doll for years, and I loved him to death. (The photo is too blown-out for me to tell what my other present was.)
What’s funny is that my son Connor (age 3) got a Mickey doll this past Christmas, and it’s his best buddy right now. I showed him this picture, and explained to him that this was me when I was little, and that I used to have a Mickey doll, too.
You should have seen his face light up.
That’s me, age 2½, sitting on Santa’s lap. Not sure if this is Florida or Ohio — I’m wearing a coat, but December in Florida gets chilly enough to wear a coat, so that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
I love the unenthused elf behind us. 😀
I got this out of the treasure trove envelope of photos my Mom dropped off at my house this summer. I’m still sorting through them, and I find a new gem every time I look inside. Every picture of my late Memaw is a gem to me. Same with all the pictures of me with my beaming little-girl smile — I was always happy. There was no reason not to be.
Judging from the other Christmas photos that were taken at our apartment on Birch Hill Drive, this is likely 1981, and I am five years old here. (Could be ’82, though — no one wrote on the backs of these photos.) It seems that I got my gumball machine bank, crow puppet, Raggedy Ann, another doll, and Potzee Bear for Christmas that year.
Potzee Bear, by the way, is still alive and well and sitting in the rocking chair in our living room as I write this.
I see these old pictures and the details trigger so many vague but vivid memories. I remember the tinkly sound the ornaments used to make — they were pastel colored and their texture reminds me now of sea salt. I remember my Uncle Donnie, who was a carny and only made it home for holidays, sleeping on that couch. I remember that purple nightgown of Memaw’s, and how it felt all silky smooth when we’d curl up together to watch TV in the evenings before bed.
I was a very happy little kid.