04 April 2014

your nostalgia is greater than mine

The Sixth Day
text: molly holleran
photography: katie beth

Wednesday we woke up and ate breakfast with our hosts. They were moving so the kitchen was nearly packed up. I learned that to make an omelette light and poofy you need to add a little water so that it steams. We talked about KJ’s childhood and looked through scrapbooks for some of her adventures. After breakfast was well settled we walked around the facilities and listened to KJ tell stories of growing up at a rehab facility while her family was on staff. The place had changed but many things were still the same, like the smell of the cafeteria. We saw the apple tree in which she used to play and the rock, now covered in snow, that the children would race to after every meal. We saw the room with the television where they would close the blinds and turn off the night and the watch the screen while someone turned it on with a flash and off gain. Silly, simple things, but just the sort of game that delights children.

Being back up in New England was odd and bittersweet since I have not been back during the nastiness that is March in a couple of years. I found myself reminiscing out loud rather more often than I would have liked. We went into the Sugar Shack but the syrup wasn't ready yet, and walked down to Crystal River, a stream below the main buildings. It was covered in a good layer of snow, but you could see the basic contour of the land to get an idea of how they played as children. 

One of the things we noticed coming back to a place after so many years was what had changed and what had not. The lives of the residents seemed very similar to how they were, but the families who ran the place were very different. They no longer lived as a community to the [same] extent. Each family raises and schools their children separately so they aren't inclined to play together as they once were so the games and traditions are gone. All the feature of the games remain but the interactions with them are different, which is to be expected, I suppose, but it can still hurt to see a vision of your childhood undervalued by people who have to opportunity to experience it. We left around 2, but not before we got a picture of the old apple tree where they used to play. 

On the way out we stopped at a German bakery where we all got delicious pretzels. Hard and crispy-chewy on the outside and a little briny, soft and fluffy on the inside. 

We continued our trek to somewhere in MA or CT and stopped at Wendy’s. We paused at a CVS to run an errand. While I was in the store I found myself walking as I would if I were in NYC. There, you must walk as if there were no one else in the world but you. You keep your eyes straight ahead, and for me, who likes to look around at all the new and exciting things, I do it by a force of will. Walking in and out, I felt like I was not quite following a social convention for the area, but I did it anyway. After two days in NYC I had already assumed the position of “do not interact with strangers” which seems to be the norm for life in the city. It actually makes subway travel great for people watching sometimes because everyone looks at the floor, or so they think. If you buck the norm and observe the buffet of humanity laid out before you no one notices.

I didn't realize just how much I missed honest interactions with strangers until two instances in New Hampshire. We stopped at a Shaws for groceries because, hey, no sales tax! Also, Dubliner cheese with Irish stout is totally a thing and it’s incredible! KJ and I went off to get things for the cake I was planning to bake [as well as extra oil for Bruce]. When we got back to the car a little boy in a super hero costume asked me if KR in the front seat was my mom. It was adorable. Later, when we filled up our tank a man on the other side of the pump interjected into our conversation on gas prices to good naturedly jest about the rising costs. There was nothing more to those interactions than an acknowledgement of the other person’s existence, and is common-place in small towns but I had already begun to miss it.

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