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Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

carpenters-hurting-each-other-1971

Quite possibly my earliest music memory involves the song “Hurting Each Other” by The Carpenters. I distinctly remember hearing the song, probably played from an album in my mother’s vinyl collection, while my sisters jumped on my parents’ bed, and I sulked quietly by, studying the wooden bedknob at the footboard. At least, that’s how I remember it. I don’t know why I was sulking, or maybe I was just indulging my overly serious and melancholic side even at the ripe young age of three years old. Who knows. But when Karen Carpenter belted out the lines:

“Can’t we stop hurting each other?
Gotta stop hurting each other
Making each other cry, breaking each other’s heart
Tearing each other apart.”

I knew that this song had a very distinct relevance to my life as the youngest of eight. Being a toddler, I could only think of it in the most literal aspect of course. But it did make me wonder for the first time if we might stop our sororal pestering and pinching and biting (guilty), and just be at peace and get along for once.

Nearly three decades later, we still haven’t quite gotten the message, but I suppose that is pretty standard for most families. 🙂

Now that I am grown and have a turntable and Carpenters albums of my own, I still can’t listen to one without getting that funny little lump in the back of my throat. Be it nostalgia, the persistently relevant lyrics even decades from my first listen, or the simple fact that it is darn good music, I can’t fight my emotional attachment to these songs. I’m sure they will be something that I return to time and time again for all of my decades to come.

And in case you haven’t had the pleasure, or simply need a refresher, please enjoy this performance and feel free to make your own music memories:

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Tonight, as I was sorting through some of my things and cleaning out junk from my room, I came across a series of my earliest childhood memories that I wrote out for a school project years ago. One of the funnier ones involves my earliest attempts at entrepreneurship…

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         As a young child, a major endeavor of mine was to acquire money with which to buy candy. I had no use for money besides this, but without my own money I was not likely to get the amount of candy I desired. So, I took to selling lemonade. This would have been a good idea, except that there were few cars that passed our house out in the country on any given day. But, I was determined, so I would sit on the stone steps, behind a little table, selling cups of hot lemonade that had been sitting out in the boiling sun. My siblings were my best customers, though a few of the neighbors would also stop to purchase a steaming cup or two. More often I would sit on the stone wall watching the spider mites and waiting for my next victim.

When the neighborhood tired of lemonade, I thought up new get-rich-quick schemes. I designed greeting cards and postcards, selling them for a nickel apiece. I set up shop on the living room chairs, and worked on my merchandise as I waited for anyone to come by to buy something. I didn’t make a lot of money, but it was enough to buy a few pieces of candy. That was all I needed.

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Another early ambition of mine—bunny wrangling…

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        Around our house lived dozens of wild bunnies. I would see them out in the field, munching on clover in little groups. I very much wanted to catch a bunny, and I would try to sneak up on them, milk crate in hand. Of course, as soon as I came anywhere near them they would scatter, but I always felt that I had come so close, and so I would keep on trying. When that didn’t work, I set up a trap in our spacious backyard. I used an overturned box propped up with a stick. The stick was tied with a long string that I would hold in anticipation as I hid behind a bicycle propped up in the yard several feet away. I dreamed of the moment when a bunny would come along and decide to crawl under the box. My plan never worked.

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Youth was never a simple thing for me. I had the ideas and the drive, but neither the skills or the knowledge to figure out how to accomplish what I wanted. Perhaps things aren’t so different for me now—except that I can’t spend all my hard earned money on candy.

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Spending time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house was something that I always took for granted. It seemed that the house would always be there, my grandparents would always be there, we would always have another holiday to gather as one big, happy, extended family. Thanksgiving would be turkey, Christmas would be ham and presents. Easter would involve epic egg coloring, and Fourth of July grilled black hot dogs. The coming of August would bring hot air balloon races flying overhead, and hoards of cyclists passing through the neighborhood. Halloween meant chili and trick-or-treating as far and as fast as our little legs would carry us. There would always be many reasons to visit Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

With time came the inevitable changes. Family events became fewer and further between, and never seemed to last all day and all night like they used to. Eventually, the house emptied itself of living souls completely, leaving behind only a lifetime of collections that crowded each room and stood as colorful relics of days gone forever.

I brought my camera to Grandma and Grandpa’s house today, to try to capture a bit of the dwindling spirit that made this home such a vibrant place, teeming with life on countless occasions. My goal was to focus on those details that may have stood out to me twenty years ago. I wanted to capture the feel of leaning over the upstairs banister looking down, and the hesitation of a child peering down the basement stairwell, looking for monsters.

I couldn’t capture the scents of the place: yew, Irish Spring, musty carpet, freshly popped popcorn. But if you stare at the images long enough the memory of it might come back to you. You may even begin to remember the feel of knees burnished by orange carpet that was plush and bright long before I ever crawled across it. You might begin to feel the impossible heft of the door, inseparable from the squeak of the hinge and the beep of the alarm at ready. You might hear my grandfather’s laugh, and footsteps receding in the hallway, stepping down two steps, then immediately stepping back up two steps to the kitchen. You might rediscover a long lost part of yourself in those red tiled floors and brown striped upholstery. It’s worth a look to see.

I began writing this blog with long drawn out captions, attempting to describe the significance of each scene I had chosen to capture. I decided instead that the photographs could speak for themselves, or silently hold their mysteries forever.

Before long these images will be mere reminders.

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