It’s hot and steamy outside here in Lamesville. That means I’m having those lovely memory flashbacks to the summers of my youth, before I got old and jaded.
One or two summers, I worked at a Mother’s Day Out program at a local church. It was actually kind of fun, and the church basement had one of those old-school drink machines that had Cokes in glass bottles for a nickle. I ran around after kids, changed diapers, and stopped several games of Doctor before they got anywhere good. The kids loved me because I sprayed them with the hose. I loved being out of the house and paid under the table because I was too young to actually work.
The summer before Mister E and I were dating, I was taking an SAT prep course at his old high school. Again, the upside was that I got to be out of the house – if I had to pick between taking practice tests and staying at home with my insane mother, it was a no-brainer – and my boyfriend at the time had a summer job. I won two dictionaries with my verbal skills and learned how to take the SAT on less than three hours of sleep, a skill that would serve me well when I got wasted the night before the real test and had to take it with a massive hangover. I have not always been the well-put-together pillar of sobriety I am these days. However, I still got a 1310. ::preen preen::
The summer before college, I worked at a photo lab where I saw a lot of stripper bulges, peoples’ vacation photos, and got to see what happens when a man of God gets busted. People don’t go to photo labs much anymore, but every time I pass one I get a little teary-eyed for some reason. Maybe it’s the fumes.
The one place my brain keeps returning to is the plant nursery where I worked for a couple of months when I was in college. This was the same place where I got pissy when I got laid off and told a woman what she could do with her begonias.
On a typical day, The Dad would take me to work when it was still cool outside and a little dark. I’d listen to the Fushigi Yuugi soundtrack on the way to work and reluctantly put it away when I got there. I’d put on my apron, get up to the shack at the top of the hill to clock in, and go outside to start watering the plants in the morning. Then I’d go inside and get behind the register and wait for people to come in and buy their stuff. It was hot, I got headaches a lot, and I hid my notebooks behind the register so I could write while no one was looking. It was usually fanfiction, it was usually terrible, and it usually had to do with Fushigi Yuugi at that point.
Still, in some way, I was happy. Aside from my cousin, I can’t remember anyone else who worked there but I remember the smell of the shack, the way my lunch tasted, the feeling of the ice pack on the back of my neck when I had a headache. I remember the weird barnwood the shack was made out of, the nine-key register buttons, the way the squares of sod smelled and felt when I had to help carry them, and the way the plants smelled when it rained every now and then.
Memory is so weird. I remember sounds and smells so vividly that I’m instantly transported back to that time and place. Kind of makes me miss those times, even though at that point in history I might have wanted to forget all about it. I guess that’s memory filtration for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go outside in the 100 degree heat of South Texas and remember what it was like to have so much potential.