Remember when you misplaced your rabbit’s foot? You scoured every inch of your room and then moved through the rest of the house searching for it. Nothing. Then outside you went, past your bike laid on its side. Curled baseball cards hanging by clothespins on tire spokes looked up at you as around they went, click –click- click, pushed along by a morning breeze that smelled like freshly cut grass or just washed clothing hung out to dry; some days, both. Still nothing.
Remember those weeks before Christmas when you spent hours paging through the Sears Roebuck catalog? The heft of that book alone was enough to scare a seven-year-old back to being five, when they wouldn’t think of carrying it to the kitchen table. But you did. You sat there turning the glossy pages of smiling faces all intent on having you stop and look some more, but the toy section is where you headed. You folded neat corners at the top of a page —geometrically perfect right isosceles triangles — guaranteed to attract your mom’s keen eye, or maybe even Santa’s. You hated geometry later in life.
Remember home-delivered newspapers when their arrival would wake you in the morning? They arrived by way of a loud thud against the door, a prolonged skid across the front porch or a surprising thump against the window— all coming from the boy who lived up the street, who wanted to be a major league pitcher and decided to tryout his curve as the rolled newspaper left his hand. He never made it to the big leagues. He is an accountant nearing retirement at a big CPA firm. On weekends he attends his grandkids’ baseball games, watching from the stands and thinking: If only I worked harder at the curve.
Remember backyards where “play” was the four-letter word of the day? You and your friends would always find each other as if silent signals were sent out along with other four-letter words like yard, ball, and game — after which you and your friends lucky enough to not be grounded would follow a web of secret trails to that day’s field of play. There you and your friends yelled, laughed and played as one from sunup to sundown, living these words and — when no one was looking — using a few choice ones of which your mom probably wouldn’t approve.
Remember downtown and all the stores lining Main Street in your hometown? Stores of all kind selling just about anything and everything were on that street. People would go there to look, shop, or maybe just talk. Banks, restaurants, theatres, the 5 & 10, Grants, Woolworth’s were all there and of course the department store known as Hess’s. For you and many others that place was your Amazon in concrete and steel. You were a king inside its walls; it had everything, including the largest slice of strawberry pie you ever saw. From its large display windows you watched cars circling, neon lights blinking and a sidewalk filled with polite people nodding hello. These were innocent times that felt warm and good even to you — like a blanket being placed over your shoulders. And let’s not forget the parades: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. All at night, all spectacular, and you were there.
Today pixels greet your morning, followed by coffee and then more pixels. Every now and then a piece of news makes its way through the static of a day. You feel as if life today comes in nuggets, like section hikes on a trail map. Walk a little, rest and walk a little more, then rest again. Life, to you, no longer feels like a movie shot in one continuous take; rather, it’s pieced together like a quilt being sewn by a group of ladies from church you never knew existed. But they did, and they remember everything.
Today, life can be a conundrum. It seems OK, but sometimes — no, probably all the time — there is just too much from which to choose. You know this to be the case now but feel alarmingly incompetent to do anything about it. You say to yourself, “Do my kids have it better than me?” Or are they worse off because the world spins so fast, it doesn’t allow anyone the chance to put their hand up and ask a question. It’s run-run-run or you’ll miss it. And if you do miss it, no worries, you say to yourself, there are a thousand other options to choose from.
You now think of that saying your parents and others would always say around you, “Everything that goes around comes back around.” And you are likely saying to yourself this very second, “I fervently hope and pray that it does.”
You know, there are others just like you trying to find that rabbit’s foot misplaced all of those years ago. And, like you, they search and search, remembering small tidbits from long ago — simpler times that soak you like a sponge from head to toe, even behind the ears.
Keep looking; you’ll find it.