December 20, 2012

The Little Things, Part One

With each passing year, I become increasingly sentimental and nostalgic, to the extent that I have started to worry for my mental health circa the age of 70. 

If it continues at such stealth, I imagine myself standing in an aisle at Tesco howling with hot tears over the sweet scent of peanut butter cups that remind me of my youth or when the first snow of the year falls, clutching fistfuls of it and waving it feverishly at the sky for all those snows past. 

It's quite possible that should someone show me a childhood picture that I will clutch it to my breast dramatically and weep inconsolably.
 They add up to a lot. I've learned a lot from you. 
I see signs of this ailment within my elders- when I stayed with my old neighbour in America, we decided to watch Sleepless in Seattle. Before the opening credits were even over, she was a sniffling wreck. Maybe when I was but a teenager I would have scorned her. Rather, I passed a tissue and wept silently in unison building up to a maddening crescendo of our combined tears by the time they found each other on the top of the Empire State Building.

My father often calls me just to tell me for the millionth time about how he remembers holding me and feeding me my first bottle. This used to make me roll my eyes but now I listen sympathetically as if it's the only time he has told the story. 

When old man Mac at the pub I used to work in told me that he thought there was nothing more beautiful than a rose in a wine glass, I made sure there was one on his table everyday thereafter.

Most recently, I've started a list on my phone of things that I will never do again but would love to, given the chance. Really, some of them are the smallest, menial things but just the thought that I will never ever do them again is saddening. When people tell you as you're growing up that it's the little things that count, they really fecking mean it.

So I thought I'd share a few of my little things with you. Here is the first entry on my list of things I'd love to do just one more time:
When we were children, we would often take long car journeys. Those car journeys themselves are enough to make me swoon with the sweet memories of service station action (did anyone else love the service stations when they were kids?) but more recently, my mind has honed it down to the certain ambiance. 

You know, that cold car, crammed into the backseat with your siblings and Grandma? It's cold. It's late. It's steamy. BBC Radio 4 is droning on monotonously, everyone is sleepy and it's raining outside. 

What I yearn for most is perhaps twenty minutes in that car, watching the rain cascade down the window. I would stare for ages at them, feeling the suspense as they landed, little virgin raindrops at first until they started to swell with more water, gathering weight before finally setting off down the pane to meet others 'weeeeeeee' and pulling them into careening paths- which way were they going to go? Who else would they meet? It was so unpredictable! I would trace my fingers on the glass sometimes, trying to control their fate but before long my Grandma would take my hands away and rub them between hers to stop them from getting too cold.

About five minutes before we reached home, I would close my eyes tight and try to anticipate the journey that I knew so well. A gentle whirl around the roundabout about now, curving to the left. A few moments. A sharp left onto Darby Green Lane and then the slow right onto our driveway before grinding to a shuddering halt, doors slamming, steam escaping, Grandma's hands again leading me to the front door...

It's funny to think that we did this journey so very many times, without even thinking about it and that now it should haunt me so. 

If you could do some things one more time, what would they be?
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