I miss our photo albums and picking up packets of pictures from the Safeway. Photos were so valuable to us then. Aubrey and I would pour over the albums in the living room, as Mom watched nervously, hoping we weren’t tearing apart years of labeling and organizing. Every once in a while you’d hear a “get your grimy mitts off…”
Sometimes I go through old photos on my phone. It’s not the same. But it still conjures up nostalgia and details so specific that I wonder how I can still remember the lyrics to every song by the Backstreet Boys too. Also, it’s amazing how fast the time moves the older you get. I can’t believe these memories are this old. I can’t believe I am 31. I give you: 7 memories from 7 years ago (though they feel like yesterday).
I remember Chas’s roof on Patterson Park Avenue. It wasn’t a real deck but we walked out on it anyway. There was a small black cat who would stop over from time to time and we called him Felix. You could see several Polish Catholic parishes from that vantage point, the buildings downtown, the Natty Boh sign, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the spiky or bushy tops of trees, depending on the season. It was so quiet up there, as if everything down below were frozen because we were up top.
When Chas graduated from grad school, the Ebys and I took a road trip up Route 1 with a side trip into Yosemite. Inside the park, Chris, Chas, and I stayed in a cabin. Aside from listening to coyotes, there wasn’t much to do at night. Chas figured out a way of opening imports on the bunk bed metal frame and we played LCR. A few months later two people staying in the same cabins died of hantavirus, the disease you can catch from mouse poop.
On the same trip as above, when we made it up to Oregon, we spent a night in Coos Bay. I was particularly excited about that because Steve Prefontaine was from Coos Bay (I knew nothing else about it). I remember this restaurant well. There was a band playing that night that identified as “surf country.” I’d never heard that term before but it was pleasant music. Skip ordered a crab cake because he said he “had to know what you get when you order crab cakes on the West Coast.”
After dinner we all drove to the Indian casino. Cindy and I played the penny slots. A woman sucking down cranberry vodkas and cigarettes told me to try “the ones with the pandas on them.” After I won $287 on one of the panda ones, Cindy and I decided to tip her with a five dollar bill (we didn’t know the etiquette). I will never gamble again.
Grandmom’s birthday in 2012. She loved to conduct us when we sang “Happy Birthday.” We were on the Papas’ back porch. Someone had made mint juleps because it was May and Kentucky Derby season. I remember Gram really liking it. My cousins Ben and Zack are 20 now. I see them here, tiny and childlike. It’s hard to remember. But Gram and her spirit, it’s like it’s in the palm of my hand still.
That Memorial Day we went to Cape May Point for the weekend and stayed in the Murphys’ house there. Aubrey and Chris were somewhat freshly in love. I remember marveling at how cute they were holding hands on the beach and seeing my little sister gleeful and laughing and glowing. Chris also had a mow-hawk on this trip. Now they are parents.
My mom bought me this dress. Every once in a while she buys an absurd item for each of us. There was the sequin skirt, the shirt that shrinks to the size of a butt cheek, she can’t resist. This is maybe one of the best ones I can remember. I wore it to Dot’s Bachelorette Party. We rented a gorgeous house in Capitol Hill and had a glorious weekend of girlfriend time. All night my dress reflected on my chin–that’s not something everyone can say.
Caitlin, Alice, and I went to see Shar when she lived on Main Street in Frostburg. Another walkable roof, you could see the mountains from this one. In the house next to us, earlier that year a couple had fallen asleep after a night out and died in a fire. I remember traipsing around Frostburg like we owned the town then coming up here and feeling so tiny with the Appalachian Mountains so present and huge and there.
I do realize social media allows us to catalog and caption our lives but there’s so much more that we’d never say, because it’s weird to share, or it’s not happy, or it paints us in strange light. All of the realness that make seven years ago feel like yesterday.