From Faded to Fond
The faded, blurry shot up there is a picture of me, years ago, probably close to 40 years ago. It wasn’t intentional that I should catalog old Super 8 movies of my childhood vacations before we headed to the very part of the country where these films were taken, but it happened. So it wouldn’t be a surprise when these memories were topic of discussion when I was on vacation.
(For the record, it’s a blurry photo of a projection on a wall taken with the phone. The picture is actually really clear in the original film)
Many of these memories were there, kind of faded and buried but they were there, I suppose. Many of them I had no recollection of, though. I suppose that’s not unusual but they all made me smile. My kids got to see a glimpse of what it was like to grow up in my household, even though I was simply cataloging films so I could transfer them to digital.
The entire vacation, though, was filled with questions about what their Mom’s vacations were like. I had some answers – my wife had regaled us with tales of driving across the country in an RV with her cousins. She told us about some good vacations, some spectacularly bad ones, too.
My kids also remembered a particularly bad vacation to Yosemite with their mother and her parents as well. I chose to gloss over that one.
That brings me to the last few days, where we recovered from the jet lag at home and had a lot of other memories and questions come to the fore. My kids were particularly curious, about the good, bad, ugly, what have you. I did my best to answer them.
I also seemed hit with memories all around me. When I returned to work this week someone, once again, was wearing the same lotion or perfume that my wife did. In the past I’d have sunk into a small pothole of despair (the pits have all been filled in, they are just minor potholes now) but it made me smile. Maybe it was the difference in how the perfume reacted to whoever this woman’s anatomy was or maybe I just had such fond memories of how absolutely pleasant things could be with her around. You forget in the trenches of your daily life what the minor miracles around you were.
My wife use lotion, of course, that she wore often. But part of me realized that she only really used the stuff that smelled like this when I’d been working late or away from town or – and this was more often than I’d like to remember – when we’d had some sort of fight. My heart would immediately soften and lighten when I smelled it. Not because of the perfume but because she and I would both remember what got us here.
The last day of my vacation I had a band rehearsal for an upcoming gig. They wanted to play one particular song – Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight. They knew this would be rough for me, it was the song Andrea and I danced to at our wedding. It was the song that would come on the radio in the car and she’d slip off her seat belt and gently kiss me on the cheek while I drove.
I told them I’d play it, I just didn’t think I could sing it. I’d done that once since she left and I barely made it through. I asked, though, to take the guitar solo. I can pour my heart into that.
The amazing thing was that it was certainly bittersweet, but closing my eyes, looking down at the frets and dot-shaped markers on my Fender Stratocaster, I could feel her fingers on the back of my head and remember the tenderness. That’s the thing people don’t realize you miss when you lose a partner. It’s not sex or doing the laundry or making dinner or even the conversation. It’s tenderness. The little touch, the hairs on your arm standing on end and the touch of that other person…that’s what you miss.
The combination of things…scents, memories, sounds…they all rushed over us this last week.
Some of those memories had faded. Others…they had gone from difficult to fond, which is where I always wanted them.
So with that, I simply let them flood in and wash over me.