This past weekend, I visited my hometown. During my stay, I spent some time digging through the archives of my childhood bedroom. Among the time capsule treasures I unearthed:
My baby book with my mom’s proud chicken scratches marking the milestones of her youngest daughter, along with a lock of soft brown baby hair sealed in a Ziploc bag clipped to the book.
An old high school yearbook: It featured an awkward picture of me playing Junior Varsity volleyball. I felt for that girl, self-conscious and uncoordinated, not exactly a future recruit for the college volleyball teams. Plus, my childhood besties’ 1,000 word cursive essay scrawled in the yearbook, professing that we will ALWAYS stay friends. (She predicted right.)
A photo album from my bat mitzvah, showcasing pictures with my relatives, like my sweet late maternal grandmother. I could feel her presence in my bedroom with me as I gazed at the photo of her embracing me: the smell of her perfume, her dulcet laugh, the thought of her gripping Cherry Luden’s Cough Drops in one hand, and a black comb and pink footie socks in the other, a trifecta of odd, yet nurturing items she offered upon every visit with her grandchildren.
A tattered loose leaf cookbook made of construction paper, created by my preschool classmates and myself in 1982. All the recipes were hilarious in retrospect. Mine was for corned beef. It went like this: “She (I’m assuming my mom is the “she”) buys corned beef at the store and then she takes it off the wax paper. Then she puts it on a plate. She gives us bread too.” (Apparently I wasn’t so eloquent in my writing as a preschooler.)
A Whitney Houston cassette tape. I flashed back to my sister’s bat mitzvah party. Guests could sing karaoke to their favorite songs in an adjoining room at the hotel party. When my turn came, I made everyone leave the room so I could sing Greatest Love of All alone, too shy a 10-year-old was I to have an audience watching me, but I had enough spunk to want to belt out the Houston classic.
Bread and Jam for Frances, my all-time favorite children’s book, about a badger named, yep, Frances who will only eat—you guessed it—bread and jam for every meal to her parents’ dismay. During my visit home, I forced my nephews to let me read the book to them (so I had a thinly veiled excuse to re-read the book) even though they wanted me to read them some book about robots instead.
My cabbage patch doll, “Michelle Deena,” sat propped against the wall immodestly wearing pants with no shirt. Bald spots peaked through her head of brown yarn hair in disarray from years of me changing up her hairstyles.
The remnants of a wizard costume hang in my closet, a black robe with a few remaining gold starts pasted to the garment that I wore to say four lines for my fifth grade production of a play called Many Moons—many moons ago.
Next to the costume, hangs a little girl’s A-line dress, navy with green embroidery and multi-colored tulips.
As I sat on the carpet, surrounded by 1980s and 90s pop culture references, like The Breakfast Club movie and Rent musical posters taped to my wall, I wondered how I ever was small enough to fit into that tiny dress.
Three decades flashed in front of me as I thought about the whirlwind journeys we all take in life in a blink.
They say the days are long, but the years are short, and I say amen to that.
As we soon enter the Jewish New Year and a season of reflection, let’s take stock of how we want to spend our days which too quickly melt into years—and who we want to share them with.