Monday, October 02, 2006

Fall Drive Down Memory Lane

I had so many big plans for this weekend: baking cookies, making macaroni and cheese, breaking out my bags of unfinished knitting, starting to edit the new show, cleaning up and cataloging my hard drives, organizing my piles of bills, posting a bunch of junk to YouTube, organizing all my junk on YouTube, start writing that great American novel that has been festering in my brain for 15 yrs now and chilling out and relaxing with some good books. Needless to say, I didn't manage to do anything on my long list except spend a little time chilling with my books.

But I did manage to watch a hellofalotta Six Feet Under, buy a waffle maker and make some delicious waffles and go on two beautiful drives through our lovely Vermont countryside.

Saturday Tanner and I drove out Route 15 to my hometown of Johnson and continued on through to Hyde Park and on to Stowe before looping back around to Burlington. Everytime I take this drive, no matter how many years have passed, a flood of memories wash over me and it feels as though I could drop in at the Coles house and ask for my former best friend Jenny Cole and we'd be 14 years old again and go out for a horseback ride. Or stop in at Harlene's house past the bridge in Cambridge for some snowmobiling, or play badmitten at Susan Paris' house (her dad was our biology teacher).

Then there is Main St in Johnson and all the memories that are clustered there. The hours on end my best friend Crystal and I spent sitting there just waiting for something, anything to happen. "Please," we prayed, "Let a big bus crash here or a carload of boys drive up and disembark."

We were so bored and desperate that we headed up to the college to snoop around for trouble. Sometimes we'd take mail out of mailboxes, stop the elevators mid-floor or vandalize just for the hell of it. It wasn't much but it helped pass the time.

I mean, what exactly are you supposed to do in a town with one stop light? There was nowhere to go and nothing to do. We were too young to drive and the town had no movie theater, bowling alley, cafe or pizza joint. Now, of course, the town has developed and there is a bad Girls cafe and even a, *gasp*, Chinese restaurant in the spot where my friend Amy's grandparents house used to be. We used to dress up her dolls and have fancy tea parties in their doily-filled living room and now it is filled with the scent of MSG.

Time passes and before you know it, all that is left in a place is your hazy web of distorted memories and you begin to wonder if you imagined all the crazy details because there is no physical evidence remaining to corroborate your tale.

Did I really sit outside of the Grand Union day after day or was that some other bored kid? Was that me spending endless hours in the art room after school because I didn't have any friends? Did that boy Chad really die in 6th grade, all of a sudden and with no warning? Did I share the part of Lucy in our 5th grade play with one of the twins, Sally Merhtens, or was it Jenny? Did Crystal and I really walk out on a lake made of chalk once? Did Keith Bradley (now in prison) really buy me that poster of a kitten that one time? Was it me getting drunk on the playground and making out on the baseball diamond? Naw, that couldn't have been me, musta been someone else.

Time makes me wonder. As new memories replace the old ones and new landscapes crowd out the older ones, how is it possible to keep track of all this history? All these faint faces that I find vaguely familiar but lose track of from when, where or what section of my life. How can I remember how to get to the Bay Bridge from the Golden Gate Bridge and also remember how to get from Johnson to Stowe? How can all these familiar landmarks and turning points all jumble together in my head without turning to meaningless brown mush?

As time passes and I get older and less apt to clutch and grip at its inevitable passing, I feel more at peace with the jumble of memories, faces, places, roads and turning points. I let it wash over me like one of my favorite montages: cut to Jen and Eva riding horses bareback, cross fade, Eva and Sean sliding down Sean's water slide and splashing into the creek, additive dissolve, Eva and Crystal digging themselves deep into the mud up by Dog's Head, wipe to the left, Eva and Crystal going to the school dance and getting laughed at for wearing Madonna clothes, cross zoom, Eva and Mike sitting in the art room, he cracks jokes and she laughs while coloring in a still life of a plant, ripple dissolve, back to the present now, Eva and Tanner sitting in a car and watching the fall foliage out the window while smoking too many cigarettes.

The mountains were perfect, solid and strong, arching around us like a reassuring embrace. I wasn't sure if I would remember the way to Stowe but the two turns came back to me pretty easily. Some part of my brain must be saving these little pointers for me, it is probably the same part that remembers all those Madonna lyrics just in case I might find a need for them someday.

We skipped Stowe and its fancy inhabitants and stopped in Waterbury to get some cider at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. The place was packed full of a huge group of Asian tourists who were swarming around the gift items like a pack of honey bees. Little girls grabbed at VT keychains, dish towels and coffee mugs while little boys devoured the sample jams, cheese dips and relishes. I got some fancy jam, tea and soap and Tanner went gaga over some maple syrup tea that came in a wooden box. We both got hot cider and some hot cider doughnuts fresh out of the fryer.

5 minutes later, 2 doughnuts had disappeared and 10 minutes later we managed to polish off 4. Those greasy little crispy devils were tastier than any Kripsy Creams and they practically slid down your throat. They tasted fresh and good like apple pie and fresh spiced dough. The cider was even better and it tasted like we were drinking the sap from an apple tree that had been soaked in yummy apple bits for a million years. Mmmmm....fall pleasures...

Sunday was rainy and moody so we drove up to Highgate with JB. I got to meet JB's pop and brother Spike and Tanner got to update the Le Dou Senior's computer with an army video game. We stopped in to see Tanner's dad and Bean real quick and headed to The Abbey for another delicious dinner of salad bar (all you can eat!) and a hot open faced turkey sandwich with all the fixings; cranberry, mashed potatoes and stuffing, oh yeah! It was nice to give my memories a break for a bit and let the fellows deal with their webs for a change.

All in all, a lovely weekend, alas, not long enough but that is always my same old story. One of these days I'll figure out a way to do some of the things on my list and still have time for aimless drives through the countryside that end with hot apple cider and piles of doughnuts!

And for Tanner's recounting of the same weekend (with some JC Penny action as well), go here.


casey said...

Awesome post. I've been experiencing similar memory flashes. I blame it on encroaching age.

But it's not entirely unpleasant.

Eva the Deadbeat said...

thanks! yeah, i think it is part of the glorious, ehm, aging process and also the changing of seasons prompts all these musings down memory lane...if it is like this in our 30s, imagine what our 80s will be like (providing we all make it that far)....trippy memory montages on constant playback inside my skull...

fuchsiagroan said...

You guys should try being REALLY old, like moi...but yes, nice post.

Check out Jonathan Franzen's essay "Caught"... he is a pontificating ass, but he says we spend our childhoods wondering, "When does the real story start?" Then we grow up and keep wondering it till we realize that "the only real story is that you die." That's my cheery thought for a Sunday night.

But I think what he means is that every moment of our lives is the real story. We spend too much time preparing and remembering (me too! I love to wallow in memories!) and not enough time just getting stuff done. Especially in the age of digital cameras.