It’s funny how everyone we look back on their childhood and treats it with such reverence. Everything held so much meaning and the things we take for granted now seem like such a distant concern. Just wanted to share a simple memory of twenty six years past. If I recall correctly, it was the last summer living in the house I was born.
I scramble down the stairs into the living room of One-Five-One-Two-Three Edgewater Drive and stumble at the bottom, landing face first on the thick green carpet.
Max, my shaggy black mutt, perks from his nap and let out a dog-breath yawn inches from my face and goes back to sleep.
I scowl at him, standing and checking my knees for scuffs. All clear, so nothing left to do but hurry to the television and snap on the power. I bob anxiously, waiting for the clunky CRT to remember its function and groan when I hear the melodramatic sobs from it.
Wrong channel. Mom was using it last, I guess. I crunch through the long decent through the double digits down to Saturday Morning Heaven. The picture clears up just as the ‘Coming up next’ jingle confirms what I already know.
I sprint away from the TV and into the kitchen, reaching for the high pantry door. I barely reach with the tip of my fingers and right in front sits the familiar crimson box emblazoned with an old man in a bright blue captain outfit. We meet again Cap’n Crunch, avast!
With a well-timed hop I tug away the box and claim it a little too easily. There’s no satisfying shake of a freshly stocked supply, only the piteous clatter of a few sugar infused corn barrels. I open it anyway. My heart sinks. Barely enough for a bowl. I slog to the other side of the kitchen, taking a normal sized bowl and salvage the last of the cereal.
Half the bowl is filled with golden dust and I count a whopping three cereal berries in the mix. I picked the rest out the night before.
“Did you feed, Max?” Mom says from upstairs.
“Yeah, mom,” I say, rolling my eyes. I hadn’t but I meant to, honest.
I put the empty box on the counter and opened pulled the big bag of meat mush from under the sink. Max plods over to me, plants his but next to his dish and peers at me through his shaggy mop. A single black pearl of an eye with a calm, expectant stare.
“Oh now, you’re sorry, huh?” I say, tearing open the bag. Grunting against the weight, I pour a big pile of food in his dish. He waited patiently as a few stray kibbles skitter across the floor. I put away the bag, turn back to him and grin. He waits and I give him an appraising pat on the head.
Max turns his head, directing me to rub his ear. I wander to the fridge, leaving him to enjoy his meal. I grab the milk, take off the blue cap and fill the bowl. Little flecks of crushed ‘Crunch’ float about and I hear the worst thing a kid could hear. The guitar rift telling me TMNT is starting.
I cap the milk and leave it on the counter (priorities after all) and snatch away my bowl and break for the TV room. I dodge mom in the hallway with my own ninja skills and flump on the couch in time to bob my head in agreement to the “Turtle boys don’t cut em’ no slack.”
The summer of nineteen eighty-eight, everything is awesome.
I bob my head along with the music; the half dusty spoon-full of cereal does little to dampen my mood. Mom came from the kitchen on the final “Turtle Power” by then I stand on the couch pumping a triumphant fist. She tosses me the toy from the box, which I catch grinning as mom topped off my cereal.
Mom sits next to me, patting me on the leg. “So it’s just you and me now, since Kylon and Janell are off on their own.”
I nod and sit down, watching the early moments of the best show ever.
“So we’re moving.”
I turn to her, blinking. The words dance in my head, like I misheard them. I slump to sit next to her.
“Moving? Why?” The show doesn’t seem so important now and I let my cereal slowly turn from Cap’n Crunch to Cap’n Mush.
“Like I said, it’s just us now. We don’t need a whole house.”
“But this is our house,” I say. “It’s like our turtle cave. Why would we—”
“It’s not up for discussion, Eric. I just wanted to give you plenty of warning. You’re a big boy now, so I knew you’d understand.”
She stands, pats me on the head and goes back upstairs.
But I don’t understand. I love the house. I love how I can sing the address. I love being near Lake Erie, even if it was cold in winter and hot in summer. This is home.
I sigh, reclaim my bowl and realize Turtles is a re-run. Great.
The funny thing about Nostalgia is we often forget details that weren’t awesome. Or when a significant turning point happened in our life. This simple memory of a summer triggered the thoughts of a heartbreak. I had to say goodbye to One-Five-One-Two-Three Edgewater Drive (you really can sing it) and even had to say goodbye to Max. We moved to an apartment that didn’t allow dogs.
But it wasn’t a sad time in my life, not in a long shot. The new place has a swimming pool and the top floor had an amazing view of the city of Lakewood (and Lake Erie). Max ended up in a wonderful household well suited to his mellow demeanor.
Change can be good, and its interesting to look back on the past and remember the future.