You are the same person now that you were 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. I guarantee it.
Are you yet having those surreal experiences where you are thrown back into your past with such intensity that you can’t believe you forgot what you are now, somehow remembering? Maybe you heard a song from 20 years ago and the memories came rushing back, or you smelled something and suddenly you are five years old again? I love these glimmers of memories because I think they tell us so much about ourselves.
The other day, my friend and I were walking our dogs and discussing the weekend plans. He said, “Well, it’s not like you get up before noon ever, so I’ll get started without you.” My response was, “I’ve always been a late sleeper. Always. There was a very good reason my mom finagled with my elementary school to enroll me in afternoon kindergarten for both halves of the school year.” I still love the hours from 11 p.m. till 3 a.m. It’s when I’m most creative.
Some things never change.
About five years ago, my brain started cycling through bits of my childhood that I had long forgotten. Some thoughts were jarred by modern day events. The disgusting gingko trees in Dupont reminded me of the smell of the rotting crabapples on my elementary school playground. The smell of a new perfume in a magazine reminded me of fake little girl perfume I had as part of a dressing table set. The feta cheese I recently found at Costco was packed in water. Any good Greek knows that any good feta is always sold in water and you don’t really find it like that anymore. I was instantly tossed back to six years old and spending our Saturdays going to the Greek butcher to buy all our meats and cheeses – something I had long forgotten. Mmm. Feta Cheese in water.
Some things never change.
Other thoughts come out of nowhere but start a domino effect. One day I just remembered my mom used to feed me cream cheese and jelly sandwiches after I got home from play group at the YWCA, which then reminded me of swimming lessons, the smell of the over-chlorinated pool and walking on the trampoline they put in the water so it would be shallow enough for the little kids. Then I remembered playing with this other girl and she ended up slamming into a cement pillar in the Y and her mom yelled at me, accusing me of doing it on purpose. My mom defended me. I honestly have no idea if I did. I might have. But mommy still defended me.
Some things never change.
My brother is going through it too. The last time we were all at my parents house, he said, “Do you remember the old Caldor’s smell?” (Caldor’s was a discount store in our hometown and when you entered, it had a very distinct smell that I can only describe as, Caldor’s.) My parents, brother and I tried to recall what it was – something they cleaned the floor with? I don’t know. I can only tell you everyone in my family remembers it.
When the family gets together, we stimulate each other’s memories. My mom told us about a babysitter I couldn’t remember who shockingly never came back. She was lamenting how she and my dad could never go anywhere because we were so bad no babysitter would ever come back. She asked me what we used to do to the babysitters.
Shit I had long forgot came pouring out of my mouth. “Well, I used to be able to scream at a pitch loud enough to change channels on the old RCA TV we had, so Older Brother and Oldest Brother would encourage me to do that. Whenever the babysitter was watching TV, I could change the channel on her. So I’m screaming, she’s freaking out and the channels are changing. And we used to play Alligator, where you could only walk around the house without stepping on the floor, so we were jumping on all the chairs and the couch. And I think one night we shoved a whole box of tissues in our mouth, one by one. I think that babysitter actually left before you got home.”
My mom said, “Do you know you burned through every girl in the neighborhood, all their friends, all the checkout girls at the Food Mart and everyone at church?”
Quite impressed with myself, I said, “Yeah? And?”
“Well your father and I never got to go anywhere!”
Yeah. And I’m sorry about that. I am. Really. But they are making up for it now with all these vacations. Though I didn’t say that. I just laughed.
“By the time your Oldest Brother was 13, he was babysitting so we could go out and get some peace and quiet.”
“So if he was 13, I would have been 6 at that time. By 6 years old, I had in effect, ruined all the babysitters in town?”
Damn. I’m good. Some things never change.
Anyway, the other day I was realizing that, despite my best efforts, I find it very difficult to not be in physical contact with my “friend,” when we are together. This is truly uncharacteristic of me since I classically prefer to be on one couch and the resident “friend” in my life to be
on the other couch in another city. We always have follow up conversation about the fact that we can’t keep our hands off each other when we are together, even if to just hold hands while we sleep. I was thinking the other day, “Wow, it is so weird of me to want to touch him all the time. I usually don’t even like to spend more than a few hours with someone. The only time I can remember doing this before was…
with my ex in Atlanta…
…when I was madly in…”
Uh oh. Shit.
God. Damned. It.
We are who we are and those things about us – the things that define us, never ever change.