When you’re a little kid, the smallest happenings can seem like these life-stopping newsworthy events and you sit there with your mouth agape and your eyes so wide and grip the edge of your seat, waiting with bated breath to see what will happen.
Everything is a big deal when you’re a kid.
I was probably around four or five when my Pappap came home from work with the mail. It was a summer afternoon, so I was on the back patio, probably with either my grandma or my aunt Sharon. My Pappap rifled through the mail and noticed that his youngest daughter Susie had a letter.
He called up to her on the sunroof, and she shouted for him to try and toss it up. I remember sitting on a lawn chair, their lawn chairs had these taut vinyl slats in varying shades of green and white but sometimes the skin on my thighs would graze the scalding metal of the frame in between the slats and I would get tiny welts. I’m sitting on this lawn chair, playing chicken with the fiery metal, and thinking, just knowing, that this wasn’t going to pan out the way Susie would have liked.
I watched as my Pappap tried to toss the letter against the wind, hoping to get enough momentum that it would skim the top of the ledge, but instead it fell back and skidded straight into the gutter.
My Pappap had to throw himself into full MacGyver throttle in order to rescue her precious letter, subscription notice, credit card bill. Who knows what it was. But even after he mounted a patio table and used the aid of scissors to guide the envelope from the dastardly clutches of the gutter, Susie still had to exert a modicum of energy to lean down and grab it.
And I’m watching this, from the green and white vinyl slats of the lawn chair, thinking that I’m a part of something big, something huge, a memory that we’ll all share together and laugh about at holidays. And everyone else went about their day, because things like this, they’re not enough to fill an adult with giddiness. They’re glitches in regularly scheduled programs, they’re "oopsies" moments that evoke a few chuckles but then get lost in the back of the mind while bills are being paid and the news is being watched, until the memory is eventually eradicated altogether. But not kids. Kids retain these things and latch on to them and call upon these tiny moments when they need something to smile about. Kids revel in it and wish everyone had seen it and kids inflate it into something so much bigger, larger than life. It becomes real life Saturday morning cartoons.
I don’t remember what the damn letter ended up being, or who it was that shared enough of my sentiments to treat this as the Kodak moment it truly was, and I don’t think we ever reminisced and hyucked about it over turkey legs and sweet potato pie, but I know that every time I see this picture, I laugh and remember being so small and watching something so big.