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Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

The temperatures are slowly rising. The skies are losing the cloud-streaked pallor of winter, giving way on some days to a bold, nearly electric blue. The crocuses are out in full force; the trees are budding; the rhubarb and asparagus are out at the grocery store. On my lunchtime walks, the earthy tang of mulch hangs in the air. I even spotted a rabbit in Harvard Square last week.

And I’m feeling homesick for the mountains of northern New Mexico.

hermits peak blue haven new mexico

Eight years ago, after two semesters fraught with loss, I packed my car with a sleeping bag, pillow, a few books and two weeks’ worth of jeans and T-shirts, and headed west across the Texas plains. I drove past my hometown, crossed the New Mexico border, then wound down a long grey highway bordered with scrub and cacti, then with pine, shadowed in the distance by mesas. I was heading for a camp tucked into a valley under the Sangre de Cristo mountains, where I had signed up for a writing workshop with a former English professor who now ran the camp.

For two weeks, we lived out of cell phone range, hiking and writing and reading each other’s work, sharing meals at a long narrow table in the dining hall. I spent hours walking around the camp alone, inhaling the scent of sun on dried pine needles and the sharp, crisp mountain air. I laughed as Jake, the resident golden retriever, bounded into the river and out again, shaking himself dry, wiggling head to toe with joy. In the late afternoons I stretched out on the wooden porch of the old dining hall, with my journal and a bottle of water, eating M&Ms and writing poetry, soaking up the sunshine and the quiet.

We read Wendell Berry and William Stafford, and I spent a Sunday afternoon sitting in the doorway of the laundry room, reading Kathleen Norris and listening to the rain. Sometimes Scott, the director, would pull out his guitar and share one of the songs he was writing. His words, and the words of these other writers, are bound up with the long hikes and the bowls of hot vegetable stew, and the moments at night when I crossed the short distance from the cabin to the shower house, and paused to look up at the indigo sky pierced with stars.

hermits peak group new mexico hike

I did not solve my problems, nor completely jettison my worry and grief, during those weeks spent so far away from my usual life. But I began to imagine what renewal might look like. I began to believe, after a year of struggle and loss, that I could move forward with peace and steadiness, drawn somehow from the quiet strength of the mountains and hills. I discovered, again, the ability of words to help work through the sorrows we can’t explain, and I knew the deep joy of talking about words with people who also believed in their power.

Every spring, when the air begins to soften and the sky turns toward the vast, jarring blue of early summer, when the life that has lain dormant all winter under the earth begins to quicken, I long to pack up my car again and head for that valley. My soul aches for the deep quiet of those afternoons on the porch and the camaraderie of evenings around the campfire. My ears strain to hear the sound of Scott’s guitar. My whole being remembers, and for a few moments, I am back there in the mountains, where my soul found rest.

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“It feels strange to approach Easter without a pageant,” my mom said on the phone this week. “Even though we haven’t had one for a while.”

They haven’t. The last one was in 2006. But I knew what she meant.

For nearly a decade, the weeks before Easter meant stacks of sheet music and long racks of costumes, palm fronds and orchestra music. They meant weekly rehearsals, then twice-weekly ones, and finally two weeks of piling into the car and heading to the church building nearly every night, for dress rehearsals and then five performances in four days.

It meant stashing our street clothes and backpacks in Sunday School rooms, running up and down the halls between scenes, while my mother (who was there too) fretted about lack of sleep and takeout meals and homework left unfinished. (It never was.) It meant Dad growing a beard so he wouldn’t have to glue on a false one, then pulling out the clippers to shave it off as soon as we came home from the last performance on Sunday night.

This year on Palm Sunday, in our tiny church here in Boston, we stood in the pews and waved our palm fronds as the children marched in a ragged line waving theirs, all of us singing “Hosanna.” Later in the service, we did a quick tour through Holy Week: the Last Supper that became the first communion for the disciples, Jesus’ anguish in the garden as he faced what he knew was coming. We talked about Pilate’s reluctance to sentence Jesus to death, how the crowd clamored for Jesus’ blood and how Pilate capitulated. We heard about the darkness that covered the earth for three hours in the afternoon, the way the soldiers mocked Jesus, the words of the two thieves crucified with him, the slow, quiet carrying away of the body to lay in a new tomb.

And the whole time, I saw, not the colorful drawings of my childhood Bible or the gritty, blood-soaked images of Mel Gibson’s film, but my own home church, the one I still go back to when I visit my family.

breaking bread

I saw the sanctuary transformed, the pulpit moved offstage and replaced by an elaborate, multilevel set with a black-curtained orchestra pit off to the side. I saw dozens of men and women I knew, hands and feet and faces darkened with stage makeup, the older people walking more slowly without their glasses, everyone but the smallest children wearing head coverings, making them surprisingly difficult to identify.

I saw the story of Jesus made alive by my people, by Robert and Lisa and Shane and Greg, by Diana and Max and Keith, by Ravona and Tracye and Jana and my dad. I saw George, dapper in his black tuxedo, conducting the music and directing the action. And I saw myself – first as a servant of the wise men, later as a musician in the house of mourning when a young girl died, then as the bride in the wedding at Cana. And always as a villager, part of the choir-crowd, observing and listening and singing the songs that took us from Bethlehem to Galilee to Jerusalem to Golgotha.

I saw myself cheering when Jesus raised the girl from the dead, shouting “Crucify him!” with the rest of the crowd, watching wide-eyed as he took his last breath on the cross, hearing the centurion say, “Surely this man was the Son of God.” I saw myself bursting into song with the others when Jesus emerged from the tomb in a glittering white robe. And I saw myself crowded onstage next to my parents and sister, all of us raising our hands for the last chorus of the triumphant final song, “Hallelujah to the Lamb.”

hallelujah to the lamb

They said we did the play as a witness, to tell the story of Jesus to those in our community who had never heard it. But more than anything, we were making the story come alive for ourselves.

I have heard the story of Jesus all my life, through sermons and readings, songs and Sunday School stories. It lives in my heritage, in my very bones. But acting it out, stepping into it as a participant, held a power no other telling ever has.

For a few nights, I left behind my routine of homework and flute practice and school social politics, and entered a different world: a hot, dusty place simmering with political tension, a world of farmers and laborers who were waiting for a Messiah. They and their leaders were divided and confused, but captivated, by this gentle man from Galilee with fire in his eyes.

Each year we make the journey again, from the wilderness to the city, from the upper room to the garden, down the Via Dolorosa to the cross. We realize again the depth and power of the love we cannot explain. Our hearts leap within us when Sunday comes, and we can say: He is risen.

And every year I remember how it felt: the smell of the makeup, the feel of the wooden stage under my bare feet, the sight of Jesus walking among us, healing and teaching. The sound of Pilate thundering, “Whom shall I give you?” and the crowd’s answering roar. I hum the songs, their melodies now inextricably intertwined with that story. And I remember the joy when he stepped out of the tomb and the lights flared into brilliance, and we knew this man was just an actor on a stage, but we also knew in a deep-down-knowing way: He is risen indeed.

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We’ve hauled our tree and ornaments up from the basement, put on the Christmas music, and decked our halls. As per tradition, I snapped photos of a few treasured ornaments to share with you.

red boots ornament

Sweet Bethany sent me these red boots last year. They look just like my full-size red wellies.

eeyore bell ornament

This bell-ringing Eeyore was a gift from a high school boyfriend. He spent years hiding in a drawer, till I found him, dusted him off and put him on the tree.

green christmas ball ornament

My friend Courtney gave me this glass ball back in seventh grade. Her familiar, loopy handwriting makes me smile.

teapot mount vernon martha washington

J and I visited Mount Vernon this summer on our trip to D.C., and came home with this wee reproduction of Martha Washington’s Blue Canton everyday teapot. It brings to mind three of my favorite things: travel, tea and adventures with my love.

snowman ornament christmas tree

This snowman’s origins are lost to history, but he’s been part of my family’s Christmas collection for many years. I love his red hat and tiny bottle-brush tree.

I am staunchly devoted to my mismatched, eclectic, storied collection of ornaments – unwrapping them each year is like opening a series of tiny gifts. I’ve come to love the tradition of sharing them with you on the blog. Check out my first, second and third ornament posts for more stories.

What kinds of ornaments hang on your tree – do you have matched sets or a colorful hodgepodge?

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When I moved back to Oxford to spend a year earning my master’s degree, I shared a wee house in East Oxford with three English girls.

One of my new housemates, Lizzie, worked at Starbucks. In fact, the first time I met her, to introduce myself and pick up my house key, was at Starbucks on the High Street in central Oxford. I sipped nervously at a raspberry smoothie, studying the blue-eyed girl across from me, hoping she wouldn’t regret opening her home to an unknown American she’d met via Facebook.

Before long, Lizzie transferred to a new Starbucks shop in Headington, up the hill from our house. Despite my preference for independent cafes, I dropped by occasionally when she was on shift. I am not a coffee drinker, and I don’t particularly care for Starbucks teas (my usual drink of choice there is a chai latte). But in early December, I was hankering for a peppermint hot chocolate, so I stopped in and ordered one.

red cup with journal

The girl at the counter, one of Lizzie’s co-workers, stared at me in confusion. “We don’t have any peppermint,” she said.

I frowned. Surely she was mistaken? Even across the Atlantic, the red cups and red aprons had come out in November, and the board behind her touted various holiday drinks. And I knew from my own time as a barista that many cafes keep peppermint syrup on hand year-round. No peppermint? At all?

I shrugged. Perhaps they were out. “I’d like a regular hot chocolate, then.”

A few minutes later, Lizzie came over to the table where I sat, sipping my non-minty drink, and I told her they’d better order some peppermint, since the holidays were approaching quickly.

She stared at me with the same look her co-worker had worn.

“No peppermint? She’s mad! We must have a whole case of it in the back room!”

After another second or two, we both burst out laughing.

The next week, when I dropped by and ordered a minty hot chocolate, Lizzie stared at me with a straight face, her blue eyes dancing. “We don’t have any peppermint,” she said.

As her co-worker (a different one this time) stared at her as though she’d gone mad, we both cracked up again.

It’s been five years, but every time I order a peppermint hot chocolate, I think of Lizzie, and smile.

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Recently, J and I had lunch with another couple, who moved to Boston this summer. They also have roots in the South, so a discussion of holiday travel plans led to a discussion of road trips, and we began trading stories of our respective treks to Boston.

They recounted their drive from Memphis, how they managed it in a single, grueling 27-hour stretch. They laughed as they remembered navigating their moving truck down narrow Boston streets, with frequent “No Trucks” signs and no place to turn around, no choice but to go forward.

We laughed in sympathy, and shared highlights from our own four-day odyssey from Texas to Boston, two years ago.

road trip car highway sky moving boston

The long first day, the end of which found us still in Texas (albeit on the border). The moving truck trouble that kept us in Nashville an extra twelve hours, to our hostess’ delight and our mixed joy and chagrin. The desperate phone call to friends in southern Virginia, who let us stay at their house even though they were out of town, when it became clear we would never reach Maryland on the third day. (I will never forget that act of kindness.) The long fourth day (and the rain all through Pennsylvania); the fruitless search for a gas station bathroom in Connecticut. The sheer relief of pulling into a driveway west of Boston, well after dark, and Abi running down the sidewalk to meet me, her arms spread wide in welcome.

“These are the stories you tell,” I commented, as I listened to J recount parts of our story and jumped in to add context and details. Our move to Boston is already one of the turning points of our marriage, a jagged, exciting new chapter, and we have already told and retold the tale of how, exactly, we got here. Our friends will do it too: five and ten and thirty years down the line, they will remember the fresh, anxious adrenaline rush of driving that rental truck through Boston.

Some of the details of our moving saga will fade with time; others will make their way into family legend. Our children will know this story, the way I know the stories my dad tells and retells around the dinner table. There are anecdotes from his childhood on a Missouri farm, from when he worked on his uncle’s land in the summers, from his newlywed years with my mom. Stories from when my sister and I were little, many of which became the impetus for family jokes. (My husband and my brother-in-law have heard a lot of explanations over the years, as we four Noahs keep translating our family vernacular for them.)

Just like my dad, I reach for the same stories over and over again, to explain a trait or share a memory or make friends laugh. I often find myself saying to friends, “You’ve probably heard this story before.” But I keep telling them, the same anecdotes and jokes, because those stories make up the fabric of my life, my marriage, my family’s life together.

What stories do you tell over and over again?

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The leaves on the Common are flaming out in color, shedding the thick, lush green of late summer for the panoply of fall. A few weeks ago, the spindly maples lining the brick path between the bandstand and the tennis court began flaunting their red leaves, and I thought, “These maples always turn first.” Autumn winds have now stripped off half their leaves, but vibrant shades of scarlet and orange remain. This, too, happens every year.

boston common maples autumn leaves red orange

I have lived here long enough to know a few things: which trees on the Common bud first in early spring, when the Swan Boats come out for the season and when they disappear. I know the stretch where the wind sweeps most fiercely down the east side of the Common. I can tell by the sky if the outdoor carts at the Brattle will be open, or if the booksellers will hedge their bets and cover the carts, but open the shelves. I have a favorite stand at the farmer’s market. I am a small part of the bustling routine of this particular city, these few square blocks, this everyday.

carrots peaches farmers market summer fall

And yet: I have not yet learned to hide my surprise when a grove of green trees turns orange overnight. New obstacles on familiar streets (construction, always construction) catch me off guard. There are still fresh delights to discover, like the food truck near the Park Street station, with its rosemary french fries, mulled cider and friendly staff. And sometimes I board a crowded subway train and snag a seat for the ride home. After a long day, a square of faux leather and plastic to perch on feels like grace.

I have been here long enough to know this blogging neighborhood, too. Eight years and hundreds of posts – today marks my 1,000th – is sufficient time to get to know any terrain. I have my favorite haunts, my well-traveled paths online. Some bloggers and readers are constant companions, others intermittent visitors. I know the landscape and can predict some of the seasonal changes. I have a practice, a process, a routine.

I began writing in this space as a college student in Oxford, posting commentary on The Lord of the Rings as part of a guided study conducted with a professor back in Texas. I quit posting when I came home, but started blogging a year later with a group of friends on a private site. At the urging of another friend, I switched back to this public blog, to muse about travel, books, college life and the looming uncertainty of my future.

I never expected to reach 1000 posts, as I typed in the crowded computer lab on Canterbury Road in 2004. The online world continues to surprise me: how huge and unknown it still is, how fast it can grow, how much potential it holds for connection. There is plenty of rubbish too, like the litter and grit along Boston’s streets: the Internet can be a venue for bickering, bullying, snark or simply too much shouting. Sometimes I retreat from it for a day or a weekend or longer. But I always come back. And this online corner of my own, a place to connect with readers and share my life, feels like grace.

Our digital world is changing so rapidly that I can’t predict where I’ll be writing in another eight years or 1,000 posts. But for now, I plan to keep coming back here, sharing books and travelogues and bits of my life story with you. The element of connection makes this space rich and sacred, and for that – and for all of you – I am so grateful.

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I debated endlessly about whether to attend my high school reunion.

It’s a long way to West Texas these days – and much more complicated than my college and post-college routine of hopping in the car after work or classes, driving straight down I-20, into the sunset, for 150 miles. My parents and sister live in my hometown, but most of my friends have scattered, and I wasn’t sure any of my dearest ones would make it to the reunion. But I wanted to see who would come, and I could hardly pass up a chance to see my nephew and hang out with my family. So I flew down to Texas just after Labor Day.

I had a generally terrific high school experience. I was never quite one of the “popular” crowd, but I didn’t mind, since I spent all my time with several small, tightly knit groups of friends. I was a well-known bookworm and brainiac, a band geek (I played the flute), a “groupie” for the debate team and drama club (most of my best friends were in one or both), and an avid high school football fan. This was West Texas, after all, and I marched at every halftime and followed the action from my place in the stands. I can sing both my alma mater and fight song, and I still bleed purple and gold.

Even so, I worried about the reunion for weeks. Would it be awkward and uncomfortable to see people I hadn’t seen for ten years? Would the social structure of high school reassert itself? Would I find anyone I knew to hang with, since neither my husband nor my best friend could make it? What would I think of my friends and acquaintances, now grown up and living real adult lives? And what would they think of me?

I drove to the reunion in my dad’s car, down familiar streets, past the school itself and the tall cluster of downtown buildings visible for miles on the flat West Texas landscape. I sat in the parking lot for two or three minutes before gathering my courage and going inside. I wasn’t afraid, exactly, but I hate walking into social situations alone.

But when I arrived at the registration table, my friend Kelly (class vice-president and event planner extraordinaire) jumped up to give me a hug. I found a place at a table right away, chatting with my friend Jessica and her husband, until I began jumping up in my turn to greet friends I hadn’t seen since college summers or even since graduation day, ten years ago.

The Three Musketeers: Brittany, Lina and me

I hugged girlfriends and shook their spouses’ hands, laughing as we all tried to remember each other’s married names. I swapped how-are-yous and where-do-you-live-nows with dozens of people. I nearly got swallowed in huge bear hugs from my guy friends. And I talked to a guy my sister used to date, who asked after my family – because in my close-knit hometown, old bonds matter more than old resentments. (The latter have faded with time, anyway.)

We have all traveled far and wide in ten years, going to college and starting careers and meeting our spouses, trying out new personalities before settling into our own skins. The guys, mostly, have gained a little weight and lost a little hair; many of them, in blazers and jeans and cowboy boots, look like younger versions of the Midland oil men I know. The girls were a flock of perfumed butterflies in brightly colored dresses, with shining, coiffed hair. Many of us wear wedding rings; a few had left their children with parents or friends for the evening. (One friend admitted to missing her baby, just two weeks old that night. I didn’t ask, but I wondered if it was the first time she had been away from him.) Mostly, despite new haircuts or a few extra pounds, we look even more like ourselves than we did at eighteen.

I didn’t talk to every person; as ever, many of us gravitated toward the people we knew and liked. But the crowd remained fluid as the night went on, never hardening into cliques the way it used to. I had conversations with people I barely knew back then, many of whom had identical reactions to where I live now: “Boston! Really?” I laughed off (but secretly enjoyed) a heap of flattery from a friend who has always been ready with a compliment for me. I chatted with a girl from Austin who married my friend Luke, and because she’s now one of my sister’s best friends, we felt like we’d known each other for years.

We parted with many hugs at the end of the night, and I must have told a dozen people to look me up if they ever come to Boston. I drove home through familiar dark streets, past the stores and schools and traffic lights that made up the landscape of my teenage years. I parked in the driveway and tiptoed into the dark house, tingling with the fun and the deep satisfaction of a true, if brief, reunion with old friends.

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Recently, my husband and I reached the two-year anniversary of our move from West Texas to Boston. The first anniversary felt both weighty and giddy; we could hardly believe we’d survived a whole year in our new home. We had left blistering heat on the West Texas plains for a greener, more erudite land where summers were milder and fall was a riot of color, scented with apples and woodsmoke. Our first winter was long and bitterly snowy, but we learned to shovel snow and wear layers, and we felt deep pride in having stuck out an entire year in a place so divertingly unlike our homeland.

This two-year anniversary, this second milestone, feels different.

orange leaves boston common fall

I’m over at the Art House America blog today, sharing some thoughts on our two years in Boston. Head over there to read the rest!

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Soon, I’m taking J to D.C. for the first time. He’s never been there, and I believe all Americans should go at least once, to wander the Smithsonians and pause at the National Mall and stand in silence at Arlington National Cemetery. And after a decade, the layers of memories from my five trips there are calling me back.

The first layer, from a quick family vacation when I was 12, is overlaid and obfuscated by images of the trips that came after. When did we go up in the Washington Monument? When did we tour Ford’s Theatre? How many times have I watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington? (Answer: not enough. Whatever your politics, it is one of the most deeply moving sights I’ve ever witnessed.)

My last visit to D.C. dates from November 2001, with 25 other students and my favorite English teacher, who sponsored our school’s student diplomatic team. We were representing the U.S. at a Model OAS conference, and we spent the fall semester researching current events and collecting our findings in thick black binders. We learned parliamentary procedure and explored the relationship of the U.S. to other countries in the Western Hemisphere. And then, with the rest of the world, we watched in horror as the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were hit. Underneath our shock and fear, our deep instinctive knowledge that our world would never quite be the same, was a flutter of wondering: Will we still get to go to D.C.?

moas front page

The front page of my MOAS scrapbook

Thanks to Mr. Walker’s powers of persuasion (he convinced our parents that the heightened security would make D.C. one of the safest cities in the world), we all woke up before dawn on the day after Thanksgiving, and hauled our luggage to the airport where we posed with tired eyes, a few of us holding a huge American flag. We had filled our suitcases with binders and business suits, and every one of us girls followed Walker’s advice to pack a little black dress for the Gala, held at the end of the conference. I had planned to tuck in my recipe for peanut butter kiss cookies, already the team’s favorite snack, but I forgot it, instead calling my mom from the hotel phone and asking her to dictate it to me.

We settled into a string of rooms at the State Plaza Hotel, with narrow kitchenettes and tall windows that gave us views of George Washington University and the edge of Georgetown. We were smart, articulate, well-mannered high school students – but we were also cocky, giddy teenagers, and our excitement bubbled and fizzed over like the champagne we were still too young to drink.

I have almost no photos of the usual D.C. attractions from that week, perhaps because I had walked the Mall, seen the monuments, toured the museums, before. I did love walking those familiar paths with new, dear friends, standing in silent awe at the Vietnam Memorial and looking up to read the words of the Gettysburg Address, half hidden in shadow as huge floodlights illuminated President Lincoln. I remember visiting Kermit the Frog and Dorothy’s ruby slippers at the American History Museum, and I did make a stab at a modern art museum, until I got downright bored and slipped out.

Mostly what I remember is the feeling of utter freedom, the ecstasy of being on my own, in a cosmopolitan city, with a group of the friends I loved best. My dearest friend, Jon, was the MOAS president that year, and we spent hours walking around Georgetown, just the two of us, one sparkling indigo night. I also waited for him every day after the conference sessions ended, tired and rumpled in my suit and heels, but anxious for his company on the short walk back to the hotel. The streets of D.C. pulse constantly with both history and change, solidity and growth, and we felt the city’s beat under our shoes, thrumming through the pavement, weaving itself into our bodies and our memories.

gala photo

Jon and me at the Gala, and yes, I’m wearing a little black dress.

I stepped into adulthood for the first time that week, trying it on for size like the navy-blue high heels I borrowed from my mother. I stumbled a bit, my feet aching from the unfamiliar fit, and when the week ended, I was glad to slip back into jeans and sneakers, to be a teenager again. But in that city where growth and change always agitate under the surface (and sometimes swirl above it), I caught a glimpse of what it meant to be grown up, to explore a city for myself, to walk unfamiliar streets and new neighborhoods until they became, somehow, my own.

I will go back to the monuments and museums with J, pointing out names and plaques, dates and heroes. We will visit the sites that demand a bit of awe, that mark wars and victories, challenges and triumphs, in our nation’s history. But I’ll also take him past the OAS building, down the once-familiar path leading back to our hotel. I will point out those spots too, those streets and buildings, less famous to others but vital to me. I will point them out, and I will say: There. Look hard. Do you see it? This is where I began to make the city my own. This is where the world opened up for me.

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When I was a kid, summer meant bare feet and long chlorine-scented days at the pool, cherry Popsicles and Saved By the Bell reruns and later bedtimes and reading dozens of Baby-Sitters Club books. Most of all, it meant a long road trip to visit both sets of grandparents, stopping for a few days at Dad’s childhood home in southwest Missouri before driving on to see my mom’s folks in Ohio.

Those vacations tapered off as my sister and I entered high school, as our summers filled up with camp and friends and golf (for her) and band activities (for me). My mom’s folks moved to Texas when I was 13; they now live four hours away from my parents instead of twenty-four. I miss their old blue farmhouse, but we were and are glad to see them more often.

With my grandmother’s passing in January, though, I no longer have any grandparents living in the houses I grew up visiting. My dad’s dad passed away when I was a teenager; my step-grandpa Jack won’t stay in Mimi’s house alone for much longer. (It is too big for one person, and too full of her; he’s moving back to his own house a few miles down the road.) It feels strange to realize that the next time I visit Neosho, I’ll spend time at my uncles’ and cousins’ houses, but not at Mimi’s. And she won’t be there.

Sometime soon, my parents and aunts and uncles will begin dismantling the contents of the house where my family has lived for more than 50 years, setting aside furniture and knickknacks to sell, choosing heirlooms for themselves and their children. (Mimi collected shoes, teacups, costume jewelry, vintage tins, antiques of various kinds and Sunshine Biscuit Company memorabilia, not to mention stockpiling canned goods as though the end of the world was imminent. There is a lot of stuff in that house.)

I asked my mom to pick me out a teacup or two when they sort things out, and I already have a green butterfly pin given to me by a cousin after Mimi’s funeral. But Dad brought a few treasures back for me from his last trip to Neosho: three beautiful vintage books, and a pair of Mimi’s church gloves.

tom sawyer vintage books alice in wonderland

The copy of Tom Sawyer is one I used to read as a child, though the dust jacket has gone missing over the years. This edition of Alice in Wonderland was too beautiful to pass up; the illustrations are gorgeous. And the orange-covered primer, On Cherry Street, came to my dad via Field Elementary School, where he and my uncle and his best friends all went. (One of those friends later officiated at my wedding.) I am the only true bookworm in the Noah family, and these books will join the ranks of my treasured heirloom books and young adult literature.

Mimi had stopped wearing gloves to church by the time I came along, but these black scalloped gloves were hers, and they remind me of her getting all dressed up for Sunday morning church and Christmas Eve services. I will cherish them, and wear them when it gets cold again here.

black cotton church gloves grandmother

I have one other book from Mimi’s, which I used to read every summer (and giggle out loud at the funny parts): No Children, No Pets. She tried to send it home with me several times, but I wouldn’t let her. Reading it, in the late afternoon when the house was quiet, was an integral part of the magic of being at Mimi’s house. I finally let her give it to me after I graduated from high school, and oh, how I treasure it, and these other heirlooms from the Noah farmhouse. My long summer days there may be over, but hidden between these covers is a little bit of that magic, the smell of those rooms and the deep love that permeated the whole place.

What heirlooms do you cherish from your childhood?

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