Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind…
The other day I was actively going nowhere on my elliptical machine, and as it often does, my mind decided to take a little journey of its own. I don’t know what triggered the initial thought, but I eventually noticed (sometimes it takes a while; I don’t always pay attention to myself) that I was recalling phrases or initialisms that I could tie to specific times and places in my life:
“ILTAAF” – it was originally “ILYAAF” for “I’ll Love You [Toni] Always And Forever.” Over the few years we had together, Toni and I developed several shorthand sayings for and about each other. This is the one that sticks with me most; I put it on my license plate when I transferred the title of Toni’s truck to myself. Others include “TLOML” (“The Love Of My Life”), “jm” (“just me”) and “jm II” (“just me, too”).
“DBGMNS,Y?” and “YFHCRO” – both from college, these were repeated regularly among the members of the AFROTC Drill Team. The first stands for “Don’t Be Givin’ Me No S***, Yeah?” and the second, which is actually a line from the movie M*A*S*H, is “Your F***ing Head’s Coming Right Off!” They were never said in anger, and as teenagers in the early 70s we enjoyed hiding our cussing in plain sight. [Yes, in the early 70s both of those were very shocking words to use.] If I remember correctly, one of the Drill Team brothers actually wrote a paper about these for a class he was taking.
Me: “The neon light was nine.” Dad: “Thank you. Remember that.” – This exchange took place in the spring of 1965, when I was 13. My dad had just bought a new light meter (go look it up) so he could take pictures during his and Mom’s upcoming trip that summer to Europe. He needed to calibrate it with his camera, so one night he and I went into downtown Richmond, VA, to take readings of various lights and scenes. For one particular neon sign, he asked me to go across the street and get a close-up reading; when I came back I told him what the result was. I don’t know why he told me to remember it, but he did. He never told me for how long I was to remember it, though. It’s now been 49 years and counting and has passed unto the second generation. Yes, all my daughters know about this. Note to self: I’ll have to speak of this to my father the next time I see him [which could be a while, since he and Mom both passed away in 1986].
And one last memory – actually, it’s my first coherent memory, I think. There’s no associated phrase or initialism; just fragments from the summer of 1955 at the family cottage in New Hampshire. I was 3 1/2 then. I know it was 1955 because the date was scratched into the concrete base of an outdoor fireplace that was built that summer to replace an older one. The old one was made of river rock; the new one of concrete blocks. I remember the old fireplace; I remember a pile of rocks and cement; I remember the pile being moved, load by wheelbarrow load, to the back part of the property. I don’t specifically remember the new one being built, though. They were used for outdoor cooking – mostly grilling, but also heating pots of corn on the cob, baked beans, or whatever else got fed to the clan. Our family spent many hours using that cinderblock fireplace over the next – uhhh, many – years.
The mind is a wondrous thing. Even if you’re going nowhere physically, you can take amazing journeys mentally.