As I walked down the street, everything around me came together to bring me back to my childhood summers. The first few notes of Ben Howard’s Old Pine set the mood, reminding me of summers past. Barely a car on the street, it felt as if time had stopped for a moment. For some reason, I have this feeling there were fewer cars when I grew up.
The thing that really took me about 20 years back into the past was the smell of ripe plums on the ground, under the sun.
It was a hot morning, despite the clock on my phone having just announced 8am. I paused for a moment, and took everything in. The sweet, thick smell of the plums, which I felt being squashed under my shoes; the smell of sunshine, the warmth on my skin. I could imagine hearing the cicadas, playing their summer song.
My childhood summers were mainly spent in the country side, in the company of my cousins, my parents, and my grandparents.
It’s funny how our memories work. I remember many things, things that seem unimportant, while I’ve forgotten others.
I remember the smell of chlorine from the swimming pool, and how cold the water always was. My cousins would jump around, in and out, doing carefree backflips in the air, while the adults would always shout to be careful with the ledge of the pool, and I would always ease myself into the water, suffering every inch of the icy liquid, afraid of breaking my neck otherwise.
I remember the type of shoe my nan always used to wear, that type of wide strap with a buckle. She always wore some sort of camisole dresses, I guess she still does, I haven’t been on summer holidays with her much lately. I remember she always kept a blue tin of Nivea cream in her wardrobe, and I remember the smell. I would sneak in when she wasn’t looking and dab some cream on my hands, feeling classy and important.
I remember my granddad, always tinkering in the garage. He had a workbench, full of tools (it’s still there). Another bunch of tools were neatly hung on the wall, their shape marked so you always knew where everything went. I used to be a bit scared of the garage, unless my granddad was in there. There were sharp tools and saws, strange machines, and a glass cabinet at the back with weird stuff. On one side, there was a gigantic metallic shelf unit with many different boxes and tins holding the most amazing objects, from twine to screws, to paraffin to nails. Everything is still there, although I don’t go in much anymore. I wish I had photos to show you, it felt like a magician’s workshop. He even had a small scorpion, preserved in a glass.
I remember, as if it was yesterday, how I used to sit on the bathtub while my granddad shaved. It was the most amazing thing ever. The smell lingering in the bathroom afterwards was his. I can still remember how his aftershave smelt, and I can still recognise it if I’m walking down the street and some guy uses it.
I remember playing board games with my parents, sitting outdoors. I hated playing card games, and even though they all tried to convince me to play mus, the typical Spanish card game, and I understood the basis, I always refused to play it. I hate card games.
We used to take our bicycles and ride around all day long. I fell so many times I have probably forgotten most of them. I have some scars still visible, like the four stitches I needed on my chin after falling off my bike.
We used to sit on the steps to the porch. During the day, they would be warm from the sun, and we would come running, dripping wet and sit down there. I can still hear my nan shouting to be careful on the steps, not to slip.
We used to fight, my cousins and us, but we were really close. My brother and I were a bit quieter, and they were the crazy ones.
We used to help in the garden, by cleaning the leaves, and I hated it. I didn’t like grabbing the rotten leaves and fruit with my hands, I was scared of the thistles and didn’t like bumping into spiders.
I cried when our dog attacked my cat, and I told him I hated him, but I really didn’t, he was one of the best dogs ever. We used to play with him, and he was gigantic and had such a good heart. He used to guard us when we were babies and toddlers and were sunbathing, lying down next to us, and even defending us from wasps. He also used to hunt wild rabbits!
I remember when I learnt my granddad had caught some birds, like sparrows, and had eaten them, fried. I felt disgusted, but then again we ate chicken. And rabbit in the paella, only they told us it was chicken.
Once, we found a tortoise. It was big and we made a small place for it in the garden, with a fence. It laid eggs, and then they all disappeared, tortoise and eggs, everything. I’m guessing the adults got rid of them somehow.
There are so many memories. Some of them seem so far away, and others seem too vivid. I am happy to have these memories, even those that still make me want to cry, like not being able to say goodbye to my grandpa when he passed away.
I guess time passes, and we make new memories, and some things get forgotten, but memories are always happy when they’re made with love, and even when we fought, we always loved each other.
There are things that will always remain in my memory, like the smell of plums under the sun.
I’ve come to know that memories
Were the best things you ever had
– Old Pine, Ben Howard
I felt the urge to write about memories, and Krista’s Weekly Challenge asked for memoirs (Memoir Madness). I feel as if the planets aligned this week, for this post in particular to be published.