So I’ve been working on a piece to enter in this year’s college writing contest (which I plan for a year in advance, except for the nonfiction portion, just in case it had a theme). I’d already had a piece picked out–a personal narrative about my childhood summers in Poplar Bluff; however, it was too long, so I wrote a new piece, built, in part, from secondhand memories. Writing it made me think of this foreword I’d written a few months ago for that too-long piece–a foreword which I’d like to share now.
Childhood memories are some of the strongest, for we don’t have other memories competing with them. Everything is new, magical, and exciting. It is why I am often nostalgic when I smell bacon grease or when I hear the “Bewitched” theme song. I’ll never forget the day my husband was cooking bacon in the oven and I walked back in from the patio and I was hit extremely hard and incredibly close with walking into Grandma’s kitchen with the white porcelain and white-painted cabinets. Sometimes, I imagine when I smell a smell like that, it’s almost like the spirit of a loved one, letting me know they aren’t really gone.
There have been times I’ve talked to a stranger longer than necessary, because they remind me of them. My husband laughs like my granddad sometimes—a cross between a chortle and a snicker—and it gives me a chill.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that memories such as these become more real, my short-term memory becoming an unreliable narrator. Memories help shape us into the person we become, and I believe those summers I spent in P.B. showed me that contentment—that spending a summer afternoon on a screened-in porch, chatting away the day—was its own sort of magic.