207 Arthur Avenue
A Child’s Memory
It’s a memory so deeply tucked into my body, so accessible this time of year.
It’s a memory of smell.
It’s a memory of warmth.
It’s a memory of mother, of home.
It’s an unconflicted memory.
In our town, Scranton, Pa., the traditional Thanksgiving high school football game brought together our high school, Central, the more academic, against Technical High, the non-college-bound. The outcome was universally inevitable. No matter what, the academic yet less mighty Golden Eagles (us!) were annually pulverized by the more working-class Red Raiders. Perhaps this was an issue of class? Before that concept, there was simply the traditional rivalry born of this Thanksgiving game.
And Thanksgiving itself.
My memory is way-pre-high-school. Maybe I was ten? My dad took me to the game. This was a total anomaly and a heavenly gift. Throughout our lives, my dad was either working in his grocery store, the Colfax Market on Linden Street, or recovering from his endless chest pains.
Being with him was heaven, ease, safety on earth. Fearing his leaving, his dying, that was my personal hell.
How did my dad manage to take me to the game?
I have no memory of that miracle.
I have no memory of the game.
But I remember returning, ah, returning. How I love returning.
I remember opening the door to my childhood house—207 Arthur Avenue.
I love doors!
Opening the door.
Walking into my home.
I remember entering the house and being bathed in warmth.
With the specificity and the clarity of a superhero, I remember.
I remember walking into the house and being bathed in warm scent, the yummy, the delicious, the sublime:
Absolutely and totally, a smell like none other—turkey.
The air was delicious and heavy with the scent of yum, the scent of the beyond-scrumptious.
Dancing within the smells of turkey, the floating, the remarkable, the smell of pumpkin.
Slight hints of sage waft through the air.
The combination, the interface, the dance of each smell creating a whole that held me, that warmed me, that welcomed me home.
I remember being held in the warmth, the deliciousness, the abundance, the possibility of it, all.
I remember standing transfixed, unable, unwilling to move.
Perhaps the bundling of my clothes—this was way before the days of fleece and thin warm fibers—perhaps I was wearing that curse of childhood, the dreaded snow-pants? The ones that prohibited movement? Perhaps I was frozen to the rug? Perhaps I was frozen to myself? Perhaps I had reached my bliss tolerance level, without the capacity to move forward toward the delicious bounty that awaited?
I stood, perhaps forever, breathing in the love of my mother, the width and depth of the container that supported me.
And of course, so many were the conflicts behind me, so many to come, the heartbreaks of dysfunction, the endless ghosts of miscommunication and disappointment.
So many behind. So many yet to come.
But not in that moment.
In that moment, I stood, one with this perfect moment of love.
Perhaps a part of me still stands there today?
Dear Friends, what holiday memories live in you? As the holidays churn toward us, let’s choose to remember the positive, the loving, the life-giving blessings we have received, not to override or to deny the struggles, but to live more wholly, more fully, and with more gratitude. For what are you grateful? Please do let me know. I am firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blessings and love to you and yours,