Feb 112008

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.

  13 Responses to “From the photo album”

  1. this was a very touching story… a very realistic take on one situation that ultimately we can all relate to in some way.

    it was a happy message, and i needed that! so… thank you!

  2. As soon as I saw that pic, I knew who it was and I thought to myself, “no wonder she loved him so”. :)

  3. I remember moments like that too. I remember telling myself to freeze the moment in time, like a snapshot, so I could remember it later. I was maybe a little bit weird that way. I’ve always wanted to hang onto every moment in life, much more interested in retaining memories than in moving forward. Nostalgia whore, I call myself.

  4. I love this.

  5. Here’s a shortish little story about my grandpa when I was little that I definitely remember. (I realize this isn’t quite what you were talking about in this post, but it made me think of this.)

    Back when I was, I don’t know, six or seven, we used to go on vacation to Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Back then, my grandparents had some money and they’d treat their kids (my mom and her three brothers) and their families to two weeks in a condo at the shore. Going to the beach every summer is something we’ve always done. The last day we were at the beach this one particular summer, my grandpa got me up really really early that morning. I don’t know how early the sun rises in the summer- 6:30 maybe? But it wasn’t even up yet when he got me up. I don’t think I had any prior knowledge that this was going to happen, but I got dressed and we drove, with a bucket and a few plastic shovels, down to the beach. We were going to hunt for crabs, apparently.

    The border between Stone Harbor and Avalon Beach is marked by these great big jagged boulders that go into the water. There are all sorts of nooks and crannies in them and it’s all accessible when the tide is out. That morning, the tide was either going out or coming in, so the rocks were exposed, but you had to go into the water probably up to your knees or so to get down to the gap between the rocks.

    By the time we got to the beach, the sun was starting to rise and the sky was all pink and purple. My grandpa and I, carrying our bucket, walked out into the water to see if we could find any crabs in the rocks. The waves up till this point hadn’t been anything, but there was one particularly strong wave that knocked my grandpa right over- on top of me. I got pushed underwater with this six foot two man falling on top of me and he couldn’t get up right away. I was stuck for what seemed like minutes in this really shallow water and couldn’t do anything. It was one of the most scary moments I can remember. It was rewarded though because after we recovered from that wave, we ended up catching a crab in the rocks and put him in our bucket. On the beach, I found a hole in the sand and we caught another one and then we packed up the car and went to have breakfast back at the condo with everyone. Later that night we took the crabs back to the beach and let them go.

  6. YAY, the Pappap ones are my favorites! I love this picture! Pappap was so awesome–going to all that length to get her her letter. That’s love.

  7. it amazes me when you tell stories like this. the depth is staggering. thank you for telling a story that was touching, and also made me stop and think about life.

    and also, it made me tear up a little. damn you! ;)

    • aw, thank you for reading it! i think i remember these things fairly well because i spend so much time thinking about my past — not really in an unhealthy way, but sometimes it’s what i need to make it through certain days. i’m a dweller, lol.

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