Summer afternoons of forgotten youth


Now and again, I take to writing about a memory or, as the mood strikes, a general feeling that enters into my heart. Today is one of those days. Enjoy!

There is something about the hum of a fan whirling, especially in the afternoon of a hot, summer day, that takes me back to my youth.

An empty silence, devoid of sounds from the television and the bass line of music, fills the ears. The only sound is that of the fan. 

In the back room of the ancient house, there are two beds, of which I'm laying on the smaller. It's a twin bed, mattresses stacked high while a queen-sized bed nearby is empty, sheets still untucked from the night prior. The room, along with the entire house, smells of stale nicotine but I don't mind. The odor is rooted in the walls, floors, and skeleton of this house, thanks to grandparents who smoked inside for 25 years. It's a smell that acts as a bridge connecting the past to the present, if there is such a thing; one that is intoxicating, a reminder of which I'm given when walking into an old bookstore or picking up an old book.

Quiet.  Others are napping, in the room over. Some are outside, playing in the backyard where grapes grow and rusted pans rest. A couple might be next door, visiting my grandpa in the house next door, talking over coffee and cigarettes. I've sneaked away, into this home, right next door to the house he shares with his girlfriend, the lady who I refer to as my grandma. Or is it step-grandma? Time does that. Over 25 years past the fact and I can't help but think, "Did I just always call her by her name? Did I only refer to her as my grandma or step-grandma when talking about her to other people later in life?"

Time does that to a person. Memories are simply left as ghosts of memories, a shadow of something stored that was once real and concrete.

A hot summer day, in the present, the fan a few feet away from my bed as I nap, transports me. There is no memory of why I slipped away to the back room of the house. Maybe it was just a nap I desired. Maybe it was to read, even though the lure of cable television was right next door. I can't say, exactly. I do remember sweat, my t-shirt sticking to my back, the fan nearby doing its best to bring me arctic relief. Whirling. Rotating, giving me a shot of cool breeze every five to ten seconds as I escaped the world around me.

Even at the age of ten, I desired solitude.

Twenty-six years after I last stepped foot in that house, last had the experience of being in that very room, inhaling the smells, and snooping through the closets, I'm transported back. The combination of the heat, the stillness of a summer afternoon -- no music and no t.v. blaring in the background -- and the whirling of the nearby fan takes me back.

Gone are the worries.  Vanished are the desires, the lost dreams, and the loneliness. Instead, I'm left with solitude, recalling those summer days when all I had to worry about was toys, riding my bike int he cemetery, and enjoying a game or two of Yahtzee with my grandpa.

At least we always had that. And a house full of fans, humming along, rotating, and delivering relief when it was needed most.

photo: flickr.com

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