Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Keeping in Mind

You know how some memories from your childhood live so vividly in your mind, but with absolutely no context? Like you’re looking through a kaleidoscope with bright shapes, colors and memories bouncing about, surrounded by blackness? Fortunately, we can peer back in whenever we like and relive this moment again and again.

One of the stronger moments I have like that (again, with absolutely no context of year or age, I was maybe six or so) is of running around in my backyard. It was summer, the light fading into sherbet-colored pastels and I was jumping over my mom’s lavender hedge waiting for the fireflies to come out and play.

I had asked someone (my parents, maybe) to come run and chase me. Whoever it was said they would in a minute, but they were a little bit tired. We had just eaten dinner, too. There was time needed, as adults say, to let their dinners settle and relax.

I could not, for the life of me, understand this. The night was especially warm and there was running that absolutely, positively needed to be done. Didn’t they know how important this running was, how fun it was, or how great it felt? I satisfied myself with tearing around the lavender hedge again, totally content. And then I realized that one day I’d grow up too, and I’d be sitting at the table with a cup of coffee in my hand and tell someone like me, “In a minute. I’m a little bit tired. I’ve just eaten dinner. I just need to let my food settle and relax.”

It seems a little contrived and ridiculous that I’d have this revelation while in mid-jump over flowers on a summer evening of my childhood, but that’s how it happened. And I filed the moment away in my memory, somewhere between Bittersweet Moments and Unadulterated Joy.

It’s tough when you’re an adult to have these moments of Unadulterated Joy. You might even argue that the word “UN-ADULTerated” strictly forbids you from them. We’re all too much aware of the world around us to really sink into the bliss of the moment and bask in it. So when they do come along, and we truly enjoy them, they’re even more precious.

Like when over Thanksgiving leftovers, you accidentally teach your 2 ½-year old cousin that hippos make the sound “RAWR,” and she spends a good part of fifteen minutes pressing a tiny plastic hippo against your nose and rawring her little heart out.

Or when for no good reason other exhaustion, the thought of vomiting in front of a quaint Nordic pie shop in Wisconsin makes you giggle so hard that your eyes water from trying to keep from bursting at the seams.

Or even when while rinsing with mouthwash alone in your bathroom, your “vigorous swishing” gets a little too vigorous and you inadvertently squirt peppermint mouthwash out of the corner of your mouth, dowsing your mirror and wall with a hefty portion of the blue liquid and leaving you struggling to control your amusement until you give up and spit the rest out in a blast of side-splitting laughs.

I’ve been lucky to have quite a few of these total joy moments in the last few weeks. They may or may not survive in my memory in a context, and they very well may end up in that bright kaleidoscope where I think, "Remember that time..." But they’re little blessings—unplanned, unexpected and, most of all, unadulterated.

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