Thursday, October 25, 2007
Memory is one of the strangest concepts that are out there. Sometimes we forget what we did yesterday, but can remember what we did and even sometimes wore years and years ago. No matter rich, poor, or in between, we all have our memories, and while material posessions can come and go, memories that we have are the only thing that stays with us until the day we die.
There is nothing I treasure more than memories that I have in my head. I can pull them up at any time to brighten up my day, and although I realize that those days are over and will never come back, putting myself back into those places and situations always seems to lift my spirits.
It was Curonian Spit in Lithuania, where I went with my grandma almost every summer. I remember the hotel room on the first floor with an open brick balcony that looked out into a pine tree grove. The grove was dry and the pine needles were covering the ground like a brown carpet. The sun was falling and making shadows and patterns on the walls, drowning everything in a yellow light. Grandma would sit and read a book in a chair, while I would lay on a bed upside down and read Issac Asimov while eating green apples. After a while, we would go together to the beach, walking down the pedestrian street covered with pine tree needles. On one side there was a long beach peaking from behind a wall of pine trees. On the other side there was a grove that had a playground with wooden carved statues, on which I liked to climb.
The beach was always very windy and cold, and we would put a large blanket on the sand and try to hide behind the dunes. We would lay there for hours, amidst swaying tall yellow grass, playing cards and talking. Then I would run down from the dunes to the beach and pick seashells and amber pieces that were thrown onto the shore of a Baltic Sea, running up to the edge during the tides and then being chased away by oncoming waves. On the way back we would stop by one of the numerous food kiosks and get ourselves some soda and cabbage pies.
Nostalgia memory #2
Every summer my family and I would go to our village house, which was in a village called Yagodkino ("Berry Village" in transl.), which was not far from Tver', an ancient city located between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Our log house stood on a little dirt road that lead to the forest. To get to it we had to turn off the main road onto the dirt road, driving down the botched surface past the fields of golden wheat that was as tall as me at that time. I remember the house where I spent best years of my childhood: a large Russian style house with a huge barn attached to the side. The bathroom was inside the barn, and I always dreaded opening that wooden door, feeling the stale cold air blow in my face as I enered it. There was no light inside, so I always had someone to hold the door to have the light from the kitchen would light up the way in the bathroom. In the lobby there was a large Russian stove, on top of which I laid during the day when it was chilly outside and read my science fiction magazines.
Ever evening my grandparents, my mom, and my aunt would go for a walk into the wheat fields to watch the sunset. It lit up the entire endless sky in its fiery dark orange glow, getting darker over the forest line. The cold fresh air smelled of burning leaves and hay. We would walk through the wheat fields towards the forest, watching the sky slowly turn from glowing orange to dark purple, and then black. The stars would spill all over the sky and you could hear the lonely howling of the wolves coming from the endless woods. I always wanted to go in and wander through those humongous fur trees at night, but right before the entrance, we would turn around and start walking back, with me dragging my grandma by the sleeve to come with me into this wall of darkness. When we went back to the house, we would sit at the big wooden table in the closed terrace room. On one side there was a small ornate window that looked into the forest, and on the other side there was a long ancient couch covered with tarp that would extend all the way across that wall. The logs on the wall were covered with old dirty pink and yellow wallpaper that was peeling off between the slopes of the logs. On the ceiling there was a small but bright lamp which lit up the whole room in a soft yellow light. There was nothing better than to sit in this cozy room, and peer through the window into an endless darkness. No streets, let alone street lights. Just the darkness and an even darker forest.
Everyone would sit at the table and my grandma would bring out hot tea and a huge jar of apple/blackberry jam that she made with my mom. I always picked a seat on the couch so I could see the window across from me. She would take out cards, and we would play a Russian game of "The Fool", which is a traditional Russian card game. My grandma and I would always try to look into each other's cards, and the room would get filled with noise and laughter. Sometimes I would be in charge of a stereo, in which case I would put in my favorite tape, which was Metallica's freshly released "Black Album", and everybody would try to turn it down as quiet as possible except for my grandma, which was genuinely enjoying the tunes. We would sit into the hours of wee, enjoying the game and tea with jam.
Afterwards, we would all brush our teeth together outside, since there was no running water, almost in complete darkness, with a lobby light lighting up the yard. One person would hold a little pitcher of water and pour it into another person's hands to rinse out the toothpaste. Afterwards, my grandma would assist me to the bathroom because I was deathly terrified of going inside the old barn alone. After that, it was time to go to sleep, which was one of my favorite times in the village. One part of the large living room was separated by a white lace curtain, creating a tiny room. My bed that I shared with my grandma was in that area, and I would always choose the side that was closer to the window so I could peer into the darkness and imagine monsters and werewolves waiting outside while I was inside in a safety of my family. Sometimes I could hear a bear or a wolf creeping up to the window at night, and I would spook myself silly imagining them to be those monsters. In the morning, I would wake up to the birds chirping and a big birch tree under the window sway in the breeze. Sometimes a herd of cows would noisily walk by, and I would try to tease them with a piece of rope. After that, I would climb out of the window down that tree, which always made my grandpa extremely worried for my bones.
I remember the lazy afternoons when me, my grandma, my mom, and my aunt would lay in the yard surrounded by various plants that were as tall as we were, enjoying reading, and picking off the apples fallen from a nearby tree. I would cozy up next to my grandma on a big blow up
mattress, jokingly fighting with her over space, and enjoying my science fiction magazines from the stack that I found in the house. The air would get filled with a smoky smell because of my grandpa burning old papers in a metal bucket in a field. After a while I would run up to him and help toss those papers into the bucked, watching flames go high up as more papers were added. I would shuffle them with a stick, crating sparks and blowing ashes all over the place.