Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

Fondly: Catch and Release

June 17, 2014





It was the same every summer.

From our first to our last.

It didn’t matter where we were. It didn’t matter who was watching or what lengths she had to go through to do it.

It wasn’t officially summer until she did it.

I remember one in particular. It wasn’t at the beginning, nor close to the end. It was nestled somewhere in the middle, when things could go either way.

Before they went this way.

We sat on the back porch of our home.

It wasn’t the first summer evening we sat out there, drinking good beer and scratching our dog.

Then she saw one.

And then another.

Suddenly our yard was an all-natural, eco-friendly dance club.

There were lightning bugs everywhere—some call them fireflies, but we never did.

I watched her jump out of her chair, and run down to the yard, barefoot and in her PJ’s. She lunged, and then paused. She waited and watched for them to show themselves for that split second.

And then she caught one.

I watched from the porch as she whispered something into her hands, occasionally illuminated through her fingers by the nervous blink of a captive audience.

And then she let it go, watched it fly away and came back to the porch.

As she sat down, she told me, “I named him Herbie. Summer can begin.”

She took a drink, and I looked at her.

This was the part of her I fell in love with.

Sadly, it was just one of many pieces, and we had become very different puzzles.

I still catch a lightning bug every year, whisper a name and let it go.

Sometimes, that’s all you can do with something so wonderful.




Rhapsody in bloom.

April 15, 2012


Rhapsody in Blue.


I can still remember the very first time I heard it. Wafting through the house on a warm Sunday afternoon, I was all of five. My mom was here and there, moving about the house, dusting…Dad was laying on the couch listening intently.


I sat down and closed my eyes and listened to the song. Every moment—every ebb and  flow. A story unfolded in my mind, as a child’s imagination took over and went for a ride with Mr. Gershwin, by virtue of Mr. Bernstein. A frantic story of love and loss flashed before my eyes. Forbidden, contested love. Two lovers, desperate for one another, but kept apart by the world, by their lives, by another man. A stronger man, perhaps. A story of fighting for what you want, what you love. A story of overcoming the rational odds and winning. In the end, I suppose it was really just a love story. But at the age of five, it was an epic, and one I’ll never forget.


I have this moment because my parents love good music, more than silence, more than television, more than most. I’m fortunate to have a mother and father so full of passion and appreciation for that which is truly beautiful in this world. It’s the very best quality I learned from them. I still have the vinyl record that played that very first time, pilfered from their collection, always available for a Sunday afternoon.


September 15, 2010


I remember every kiss I’ve ever had—clearly.

The first kiss, the last kiss…the goodbye kiss, the “it’s been far too long kiss”…I had experienced nearly all of them. Right down to the accidental kiss.

I remember specific moments as if they were yesterday, some forbidden, some unexpected, others reduced to a science. I remembers them all.

I remember drawing hearts in the steamed glass of an early eighties hatchback with sweaty toes. Moments of youth, where the words themselves were too difficult and confusing to say out loud.

Falling into the shadows of a freight elevator, giving in and letting go, perhaps for the first time in my life—bodies pulled close, my loneliness obvious but moot.

Leaning across a parking brake, though the exact intersection is fuzzy—a friendly argument that would never find resolution.

I remember the obligatory three-kiss goodnight, often through pursed lips.

That first kiss after a long, long time apart, unbridled yet somehow deliberate. A longing that pulsed through every muffled moan and pull of hair.

I even remember the smaller moments. A rare burst of confidence while waiting for an elevator in another state; lips I would kiss for just a week, yet somehow hold onto for a lifetime.

Kisses that began at the lips and stopped on the belly, self control dictated by the rising sun and impending work.

Forbidden lips in the back of an old Chevy Suburban, the smell of sex mixing with gasoline and flat beer.

Falling into an accidental kiss amidst the fog of a hot summer night with no air conditioning. Sweat sticking to an uncomfortable red couch, lost in a woman destined for obscure, fuzzy memory, though remembered nonetheless.

I remember how desperate, passionate and deliberate each and every kiss became, once subjected to fond recollection.

I remember holding tight and letting go simultaneously.

I remember them all.



December 16, 2009

Sure, we had TV…Hell, once the 80’s hit we had cable and VCR’s. But as a child, I listened to a lot of records.

I don’t know if they have any modern variations, but in the 70’s and 80’s, every cartoon special, be it Easter, Christmas or Ground Hog Day, was turned into an audio record.

Usually, that meant they simply took the audio track of the cartoon and pressed it on vinyl.

Back before cable and VCR’s we had one very small window to see our favorite specials—they weren’t played constantly, day in and day out. Charlie Brown was on once and if you missed it, well, tough shit. Listen to the record.

Now, I never missed a Christmas special growing up. I had a rainman-like memory when it came to the TV schedule that time of year. I couldn’t read a TV Guide, but I knew when Rudolph would be on…

…But I still listened to the records. It was like listening to a radio show, the television of the 40’s.

I drew the cartoon in my head as I listened to the record.

Perhaps that’s why I have such an (over)active imagination.

One of my favorite records/Christmas specials was Santa and the Three Bears. Every holiday season, my sister and I would nestle onto the couch next to the tree and listen intently as two bear cubs learned about the wonders and spirit of Christmas.

I heard the record years before I ever saw the actual cartoon.

Santa and the Three Bears was a cartoon released in 1970, written by Tony Benedict, famous for penning episodes for cartoons like the Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and the Pink Panther, among others.

It featured the Voice talents of  Hal Smith as the (only) Ranger in Yellowstone Park, and Jean Vander Pyl as Nana, the mother bear.

Jean Vander Pyl is best known as the voice of Wilma Flintstone on the Flintstones and Rosie the Robot on the Jetsons.

The plot centers around two bear cubs that aren’t ready to hibernate, and happen upon Ranger Smith chopping down a Christmas tree from the National Park, which I’m fairly certain is illegal.

The cubs, Nikomi and Chinook, ask the Ranger what he’s doing, and he tells them all about Christmas—and the fat man in red.

As any kid should be, bear or human, the cubs were excited and wanted a Christmas of their own, complete with a visit from Jolly Old St. Nick.

From there a series of hijinks and comical interludes, mixed in with a little bit of drama and a lot of really bad songs ensue as the cubs try to stay awake for a visit from Santa.

I would always pretend my sister and I were the bear cubs—every year we fell head first into the story, becoming a living part of it.

Now, my sister wasn’t always the kindest, most gentle variety of sibling. She was fairly cunning all her life. She once traded me a rock for all my toys, and she did it so well, I walked away from the deal thinking I made out like a bandit.

Don’t get me started about the Clown Make-Up Business she tried to start when I was eight. That one left some (mental) scars.

In a nutshell, mine was your average older sister, capable of the most devious of plots at any given moment in time.

Except when we listened to Santa and the Three Bears.

For that brief 45 minutes, she was Nikomi and I was Chinook. It was a strange bond that always formed at Christmas, not unlike when the Brits and Germans took a break from World War I to play soccer (football) one cold Christmas morn.

For that brief moment in time, I could let my guard down, put my head on her shoulder and enjoy being her brother.

The torment my sister unleashed as a child was nothing severe or out of the norm for an older sister. In almost every case, these moments have become some of my fondest childhood memories.

We’re both old now—she has kids of her own, already past the age of Christmas Specials and Santa Claus. Our relationship matured over the years, and she became that sister who gave me dating advice, tried to teach me how to dance and always seemed to have my back when it mattered most.

I’m no longer the innocent victim of an evil mastermind, but sometimes I still like to put on Santa and the Three Bears, close my eyes, and just listen—pretending my sister and I are two innocent bear cubs discovering Christmas for the first time.

I think about the rock that cost me my toys, the clown make-up fiasco which will require some therapy down the road and most fondly, those Christmases of my youth sitting on the couch, snuggling with my big sister listening to that record.


Alright, Christmas: Dispatches from the Naughty List…

December 10, 2009

I was about six or seven.

Our halls were decked.

That unquellable anxiety resonating from the pit of my stomach made me feel like I was at the top of a roller-coaster, about to roll over the edge.

By that age, Christmas had completely taken over my waking hours.

Everything else was irrelevant.

The fresh cut pine tree permeated the house, slipping into every nook and cranny of our three bedroom ranch style chunk of suburbia. The cold, crisp winter landscape stood outside, fogging up the windows as it stared longingly into our warm living room.

I had never seen so many presents in one place in my entire life—and Santa hadn’t even stopped by yet.

Though by then I was skeptical at best of the fat man’s existence. I was pretty much just playing along to keep my parents happy. I didn’t want to ruin Christmas for them, or lose out on any potential presents, just in case I was wrong.

Just a few days before Christmas, we heard a noise coming from the pile of gifts—it would seem a creature was stirring.

We were sitting at the kitchen table in our long underwear when we heard it, drinking hot coco and thawing out, celebrating the completion of another snowman to stand guard over our backyard.

I had shed the numerous layers of sweaters, coats, mufflers and mittens—my moon boots sat over a heating vent and my stocking cap was laying by the window next to my three pairs of socks, and two plastic sandwich baggies, drying.

My mom always put sandwich bags on our feet before the boots in a futile attempt to keep us dry, but there was nary a spot left on our bodies that wasn’t soaking wet from melted snow by the time we returned indoors.

As we sipped our coco and took turns staring out the window to marvel at our handy work, a strange voice called out to us.

“Help! Let me out of Here! Help!”

My father, always one to jump head first into the Christmas spirit, was playing with his new toy, a Panasonic tape recorder—the type you had to press the play and record buttons down simultaneously to record.  He had placed it under the presents as a fun little joke, to get us excited about Christmas—as if we needed help.

My sister and I darted out of the kitchen, into the living room. To this very day, I can still feel the rug burns cutting through my long-johns as I slid across the carpet towards the tree.

At this point in the story, I feel I should backtrack for a moment.

Two weeks prior, in what could only be categorized as a momentary lapse in security, I plodded into my parent’s bedroom and found my mom stuffing a gigantic stuffed brown bunny into the back of her closet. She froze like a deer in the headlights for a moment, her foot on the bunny’s head, before saying,

“It’s for your sister. It’ll be our little secret.”

I nodded my head complacently, wondering quietly what the word secret meant.

And that’s why, as my sister and I danced around the tree, giddy with curiosity while my dad stood with his arm around my Mom’s shoulder, basking in Christmas spirit, I said,

“It must be that big brown fuzzy bunny that mommy got you!”

Everyone froze momentarily as my exclamation was processed.

This was the first in a long line of metaphorical cats let out of many, many bags.

My sister wasn’t sure if she should be excited, or upset that her Christmas morning had been ruined as she stood there, exchanging glances with the presents under the tree and my parents, their facial expressions morphing into what can only be described as the “Dammit” face.

If there was indeed a Santa Claus, I had just made his naughty list.

I still can’t keep a secret, and have yet to find my way off that damned list. I could B-B-Q for the next ten summers with all the lumps of coal I’ve earned.

(Retro)spect: Birthday Edition

November 30, 2009

Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m old, and only getting older as each minute passes.

Birthdays have somehow lost their luster over the years. They’ve become less of an event, more of an ordeal.

Anticipation is replaced with gentle reminders of our mortality, usually by virtue of friends making fun of our age.

Yes, I know I’m closer to 40 than 30. Thanks.

Instead of blowing out a candle for every year lived, we blow out candles in the shape of numbers, lest we risk setting off the smoke detector.

Instead of dreaming about the future, we’re taking stock of where we are and what we’ve done.

We wonder what’s left.

But it wasn’t always like this.

I can still remember my sixth birthday.

I was in first grade.

That was the year I got what has become one of my two favorite birthday presents of all time:

Hungry Hungry Hippos.

I didn’t even know it existed before I tore into a bright shiny box, wrapped with colorful paper and ribbon and found myself staring down in wonderment.

It was just a game. An inexpensive, plastic game. I didn’t even know I wanted it until it was mine.

But I loved that game more than just about any toy I’ve ever owned—more than any present I ever asked for.

These days, if you were to ask me what I wanted for my birthday, I’d say a career doing what I love. I’d say stability.

I’d rattle  off a half dozen intangible things that aren’t for sale.

It’s less about what I want and more about what I need.

But perhaps all I really need is to find myself staring down in wonderment at something I never knew existed—something I didn’t know I wanted until it was mine.

Project Pumpkin-14 Years Later

November 5, 2009

Fourteen years ago today my best friend and I landed in London. We had just moved there with little plan and less money. It had to be done, as we liked to say:

It would be rude not to.

I was determined to make it over there. I didn’t tell anybody I was even going, so they couldn’t try to talk me out of it. Rationale is different when you’re twenty-one.

Moving over there was, perhaps, the best decision I ever made. It shaped the person I am now.

So I figured I’d post this one again, even though it can be found lurking in the archives…It’s the start of a short work of fiction loosely based on the experience…some moments more closely than others, but I’ll never tell you which…I figured I’d repost it, as I revisit, and attempt to find a plot and an end…


So here we go, Post Cards from the Indestructable Boy…Volume 1…postcardswp

More to come…