Step Back Saturday

As I look back at my week, I noticed the tremendous emotional ups and down, chaos and tranquility, sadness and hope. This is what life is all about — experiencing sadness, so we appreciate the joys and coming to every moment with an open heart and present mind. Sometimes that can be hard, and we need comfort.

Every since I started this daily writing prompt in January, I am continually thrust back to my childhood, to what comforted me, and to what brought me joy. After reviewing this week’s prompts, I have that strong urge to go back to the topic of Twizzlers.

Who doesn’t love Twizzlers? At a recent movie, I did find out that one of my close friends doesn’t like them, but I won’t break up our friendship spanning about 8 years because of it!

Twizzlers, licorice, and I go way back to my life in Long Island, my parents, siblings, movies, and vacations. I remember vacations to Lake George and Storytown, which is now Great Escape, when we would get the long strands of red licorice and black licorice bites. We braided the red strands and then ate them whole.

licorice-lacesblack-licorice

Then there was Good & Plenty candy with the hard shell and the black licorice inside. Anything with that licorice flavor was well loved in our house.  Maybe we were given Ouzo, an anise flavored liquor, often as children to help with teething. What can I say? It was a part of our Greek heritage!

good-and-plenty

I remember the first time I ate chocolate twists. It was at our home in Long Island on Braxton Street. We were watching the very first Planet of the Apes and in addition to our usual red and black Twizzlers, we tried the Hershey’s Chocolate Twists. They were delectable and became another favorite.

chocolate-licorice

I think that’s why I love Twizzlers so much. They remind of the goodness of family, the gatherings we always had, and the comfort and love I felt as a child. The joke now is that I always have Twizzlers around, and they are a staple for every trip to the movies.

Twizzlers = Family = Love.

What is a favorite childhood sweet or treat that brought you comfort and reminds you of your family? What images and feelings does it remind you of?

Step Back Saturday

40000_faux_fur_muff1
Do you remember these?

As I looked back on my week, I noticed that I focused on a couple of the senses: vision and hearing. I wanted to think of something that had brought me joy as a child and was soft to the touch.

I had a hand muff as a child It was beige, faux fur, and I was probably 6 or 7 when I got it. We always dressed up for Sunday church and major holidays, so having a hand muff to go with my fancy jacket was key.

I don’t know if this is a figment of my imagination, but I remember having my muff when my sister, Stephanie, and I received our First Communion. Writing memoir can often be subjective, because we get this vision of fact in our head that is based on a child’s memory. Whether the details are exact isn’t a deal breaker. It’s gathering the sparks of memory that roll out into other threads of memory that count.

So I’m going with this story until I find photos that tell me otherwise. I lived with my parents, my brother, and two sisters on Braxton Street in Hempstead, Long Island. We could walk to school, and my aunt lived down the street, so we often visited. It was a close knit neighborhood where everyone knew each other.

I remember our white dresses and the veil that rested like a head band on my head. I have a memory of my hands in my muff and how warm they were inside. It was a cocoon of comfort until my hands got too hot and I had to take them out. The muff was soft and I would hold it and run my fingers through the fur because it was a prized possession.

I don’t know if it was tradition, but later that day we walked around to all the houses in our dresses and told the neighbors about our Communion. It was obvious with what we were wearing, but who could resist little girls in white, holding muffs, and smiling with missing teeth?

Neighbors gave us money, and we went home to celebrate. I guess there are two memories here, but that’s the joy of writing about the past. As it unravels, threads lead you elsewhere. Something soft, something white, but a wonderful memory of childhood and community.

What is something soft that you remember as a child? Maybe you still have it. Does it feel the same? What memories does it bring up by holding it. Look for photos to spark where you held it. Bringing the senses into memoirs creates the whole picture, so that others remember it along with you.

Hung out to Dry

clothesline
Photo taken in Greenville, NY by Alysia Thomas

When I was seven years old, my family moved from the bustling chaos of Long Island to a quiet small town called Greenville in Upstate New York. No longer able to say hello to the crossing guard as we walked to school, we now had long rides on the bus. You know you are far away from the city when you have to drive your car between houses to go trick or treating for Halloween.

I loved climbing trees, riding my bike up the huge hills and then standing on my pedals with my arms raised up to the sky as I floated down the hill. There are so many memories, but this photo reminded me of our clothesline off the back sliding door on to our porch. My mother would carry a basket filled with sheets and towels, shake them out, and hang them with wooden clothespins. My siblings and I helped by pulling the rope that sent the laundry out over our expansive backyard. The Catskill Mountains were a glorious backdrop, especially at sunset. The wind would whip the sheets up into the air where they flapped like newborn birds, and then settle to a sway like grandma in her favorite rocking chair.

The smell of the country air on my pillowcase lulled me to sleep even as the sounds of the night creatures chirped and hooted outside my bedroom window. The world was so simple then, and I miss the freedom of the open space and timelessness of my childhood. But these memories bring me joy, and I’m grateful for them and my childhood home.

What is a favorite childhood memory that you connect to your childhood home? What emotions and feelings does it bring up? You may even find a photo that creates a more detailed recall. Add in senses, descriptions, and details.