Sometimes, when I sit down at my computer with a desire to write, nothing seems to come up. It is like I am looking into a deep black well, knowing that there is life down there, but somehow it is hiding from me, playing peek a boo. I suppose the sides of the well can be slippery, so at times inspiration may just have a hard time climbing up. It seems to try, gets only to some point to where I get an inkling, and bam (!) it slides down again, below the water into the unconscious realm. Yet at other times when I write, whatever is down there just seems to flow out of me, into my fingers, and either onto the key board, or from my pen, if writing in my journal. One or the other, seldom in the middle for me; I seem to be a man of extremes.
Though at times if I focus on one item, I can often build up something around it; memories soon arise so that I can build some structure, a story about the experience. Let’s say for instance I think of ‘tea’. Well, there are lots of associations that cluster around that word. I love tea, we often had it had home. It brings to mind grilled cheese sandwiches, made just right. You know lots of Velveeta cheese, between two pieces of white bread. Melted butter in the skillet, with the sandwich smashed so hard the melted cheese flows out the sides, and its edges burned. Then having a strong cup of sweet hot tea to go with it; now that is a memory. My sisters know how to make them. When I visit them it is my most requested item on the menu. It is hard to get not only a good cup of tea in many restaurants, but also grilled cheese sandwiches; they are never made right. Never enough cheese, or butter, nor are they smashed; they come out perfect….never good enough. Sort of like ‘Barbie dolls’, that is what they look like. Bread not smashed, very little butter, and the cheese (not Velveeta!), is just one little slice. Now what fun is that? I usually don’t order them in restaurants, hence my desire for them when I visit home.
The whirl of a fan is another fond memory that I can build upon. When young, we always had a very large fan running all year round. It was placed in such a way that all the rooms could get some breeze from it. It was loud, soothing, and something very nice to go to sleep by. Almost as good as rain, another good memory. Even to this day I have a fan in my room running, even in the dead of winter, a good sleep aid. I can remember a funny incident that happened with the fan. I am a very light sleeper, so this really made an impression on me. One night the wind seemed to be more powerful than most nights, and I guess it blew one of the curtains so hard that it must of flown almost straight out, for it got caught in the fan. The racket was so loud that I think I woke up on my feet. My body must have jumped three feet off the bed. Not everyone woke up, but those who did had no idea what that awful noise was, loud, close, and yes scary for a 12 year old. I soon found out what it was, we fixed the problem, and went back to bed. I guess it took me a couple of hours to get back to sleep.
Life is full of homey memories that bleed into adult life. For me many of my favorite foods are based on that. For instance I love oatmeal. Many find it boring, but me, food from heaven. I even eat it raw, just pour in bowl and add milk and sugar. Something I loved to do in my childhood. I used to make my mother sick in the cereal department. I used to get Wheaties, or Corn Flacks, put in sugar and milk, then put in the fridge for a couple of hours until it got real mushy….hmmmmmm I loved it. Now that did not bleed over in to adult life. I don’t know how I got to like it, but when thinking of it today, the word slimy comes to mind.
Of course hamburgers and french fries. How wonderfully good they tasted when I was young. I think I still try to recapture that experience, and once in a while, I actually do it. Steak and Shake hamburgers to that for me; hamburgers from the 50’s, sort of like traveling to the past, all that is needed is one bite. Dad used to get them for us when we visited him for the day at the gas station, in East St. Louis. Every time I bite into one, I am flooded with memories of those innocent days. I really like burgers with simple mustard and a lot of onions, though fully dressed are good also.
So yes one small memory could lead to a great deal of memories being dredged up. The pleasant ones are of course easier to think and write upon. The not so pleasant are probably more important for me to think and write about. The more I learn of my past the less it seems to control me. Yet I am very thankful for pleasant memories and the not so pleasant.