Nostalgia is one of those feelings in life that I have a tough time understanding, yet unintended triggers can have the ability to bring you back to a memory you haven’t thought about in years. I often will get a hint of the feeling when listening to an old song or when seeing a re-run of an old show I used to watch at a time when they were still considered new shows. Oftentimes the feeling is only momentary, and goes just as quick as the onset. But that one moment can have the power to incite a variety of emotions, even embarrassment. I tend to have a lot of those. But seeing the feeling of nostalgia hit another individual is an entirely unique experience.
When the plumbing situation happened recently, my mom and I made quick work of moving boxes from the closet in the guest room before they got wet so whatever was contained in them didn’t get ruined. But the boxes were still currently cluttering the laundry room where we left them. So now felt like as good of a time as any to finally go through them so we could figure out if there was anything worth throwing out before we moved them back into the closet after the repairs.
The first couple of boxes were mainly just some old books that my mom kept in case she decided to read them again, but I was able to convince her to part with them in my argument that her e-reader was a more suitable storage place for a collection of books.
The fun started when we got into the boxes of “memories.” There was everything from old photo albums and vinyl records to dried flowers and cards from birthdays long passed.
As I was thumbing through some of the photos, noting how ridiculously I was dressed as a child, or how beautiful my mother looked on her wedding day, I looked up and noticed my mom holding a lock of blonde hair. It struck me as odd that she had saved hair, but what really caught me off guard was the far-away look she had in her eyes like she’d been launched a few decades back.
It was like she realized she’d time traveled for a minute when she snapped out of her trance, but her eyes appeared glassy, like some memory had tugged an emotional string with her.
“Do you remember when you used to lay your head on my lap while I brushed your hair?” my mom asked.
I do remember because to this day, I still love my hair being played with. However, I couldn’t deliver that sentiment because she continued speaking as if not really looking for a response from me.
“I remember sometimes you’d lay on the couch with me for hours wanting me to play with your hair. You even had me ‘check for lice’ on quite a few occasions, demanding that your head was itchy, but I knew it was because you just wanted me to play with your hair. I didn’t mind though because you had the prettiest shiny blonde hair. I used to tell you it reminded me of…”
“Corn silk,” I interrupted. I still don’t understand how that was ever a compliment as I regard corn silk as being stringy and not necessarily soft. But that was my mom’s interpretation of my hair as a child and I knew she meant it as a loving compliment.
At first, I didn’t know if it was whether I cut her off mid-sentence, or the fact that I remembered something that was apparently a special memory for her, but her eyes welled up with tears. As did mine, because although such a small dent in all the memories we’ve made together, it was this particular one we shared that felt like one of the most special to her. It had me thinking; as a child curling up into a mom’s lap, you don’t think about those moments no longer being possible one day. You don’t think about how important it is to create those memories because at the time, you are just living in the moment. But in this moment, I’ve realized how fleeting our lives are here on this earth and what little time we have left to make new formative memories. Even less of a chance to experience nostalgia over those new memories.
So, for now, I will enjoy the time I have left with my mom laughing over pictures of poorly chosen outfit ensembles of decades past and her unwillingness to let any of her Elvis records go.