25 July 2010

Grammie and Grampa

For my grandparents' 60th anniversary:

When I think about my grandparents…

I see natural wonders—Devil’s Tower, the Grand Canyon, and Crater Lake—as well as the great palaces of the world: the Cow Palace and the Corn Palace. I see a needle-point wall hanging, whose loops are gradually filled with the names of grandchildren, and a yellowed comic about a destitute man explaining that his wife collects dolls. I see bubble lights, and puzzle pieces, and the countless stars of an Echo Summit night.

I hear the San Francisco Symphony playing animal noises and cousins telling knock-knock jokes over the CB radio. I hear dice rattling frantically in a tin lid and a church choir belting out their Christmas program. I hear hand bells, and the clatter of Scrabble tiles, and sleepy tales of Lake Wobegone.

I taste pink Jello salad with walnuts, and the distinctive flavor of a tall Jim washed down with a rootbeer float. I taste several weeks’ worth of bearclaws and sandwiches from a cooler, but also High Tea scones. I taste Chex mix and Danish butter cookies and soft serve from Sizzler on my birthday.

I smell the warm steam of Cabin waffles, mixing with smoke from the morning fire. I smell November turkey and December salmon, and sulfur bubbling out of Yellowstone mudpots.

I feel the heat of a long car ride through the Badlands and the chill of a September afternoon at Candlestick. I feel a well-worn “Cookie Monster blue” carpet and the rough ribs of the Yellow Room’s bedspread. I feel tip-toe hugs and bent-over kisses, and hands held for grace, in short… I feel love.


So, I am quickly coming up on my 10-year high school reunion, which I'm actually really looking forward to. (Last night I dreamt that it was being held in the supermarket by my house. Not much seating, but the food was great.) Anyway, I was spending a lazy Sunday afternoon listening to Prairie Home Companion (which would make it seem like I'm coming up on my 50th high school reunion) when they read "The Fire of Drift-wood" by Longfellow, which I've excerpted below:

The Fire of Drift-wood

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

...We sat and talked until the night,
Descending, filled the little room;
Our faces faded from the sight,
Our voices only broke the gloom.

We spake of many a vanished scene,
Of what we once had thought and said,
Of what had been, and might have been,
And who was changed, and who was dead;

And all that fills the hearts of friends,
When first they feel, with secret pain,
Their lives thenceforth have separate ends,
And never can be one again;

...The very tones in which we spake
Had something strange, I could but mark;
The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark.

And now the thought of my reunion is fairly depressing. Thanks a lot, Longfellow.