All my life, I have been obsessed with how things used to be. I am 25 years old, but in age only. I love the way things used to be, whether it be in music, sports, you name it. Any piece of the past in something I love, I try to cling to it. Old guitars, ticket stubs from auto races long ago, vinyl records, old signs and books, I love it all. And on top of that, I am very much Mayberrian or Lake Wobegonian in my mindset, and although I don’t regret this, I do sometimes find myself standing out like a sore thumb, especially in my own generation. And sometimes, the journey through the past can be a painful one, but the knick-knacks and souvenirs picked up along the way continue to serve me well.
I often find myself not adhering to many things my generation glorifies and follows. That makes me somewhat odd in my friend circles, but I still hold steadfast. I still believe in true love. I still believe in the good in people. I still believe that there is hope. I still believe in loyalty, trust, support and taking time for yourself. I still believe that, some way, somehow, everything will get better. And if that isn’t the way to think, it’s certainly the way to pray.
Being an old soul has its perks, but it also has some pretty hefty drawbacks as well. If you’re not careful, those trips down Memory Lane can end in sadness at times, especially if you have an overactive, overthinking mind like myself. And it can be the littlest things that start you in on trips down that road. An old radio or TV commercial. An issue of a magazine. Smells of certain plants or foods. A song. A video of an old sporting event. Even the sound of the wind or the falling of snow. I have found myself taking that journey back in time off of these things and many more. And time was when I would think back to childhood, and it would make me sad. But these days, I look back sometimes, and while there is a twinge of sadness and longing for the safe harbors of yesterday, I can smile knowing I have the memories and the memorabilia to highlight the good times, while at the same time respecting the perspective that time has added to the not-so-good parts of the quarter-century I have spent on this earth.
I have mentioned my dear mother Nancy in past blogs. The memories I have of her are of her being a valiant, strong and ethereal force in my life, and being the fighter that I model myself after today. I didn’t know it at the time, but kid me was taking notes watching her and how she gracefully fought ovarian cancer for four years, after doctors only gave her six months at first diagnosis. Three memories of her stick out strongest in my mind, the first of which being her love of cooking. The lady never failed in anything she set her mind to in the kitchen, and if I put my mind to it at times, I can still taste her wonderful cooking. Whether it be something as simple to make as black gravy, or a full-on Thanksgiving feast, she excelled. Any time I smell fresh-made bread, I think of her, for she absolutely loved making homemade bread.
The second of these memories is of an excursion to the grocery store during a snowstorm, probably 20 years ago at this juncture. It was dumping the snow, so much so you could hardly see 10 feet in front of you, but still, mom persisted. I remember giant clumps of the heavy, wet snow hitting the windshield repeatedly. I remember making the comment of, “if one more of these things hits the windshield, I’m going to scream!” And just like that, the clumps of snow hitting the windshield stopped. To this day, whenever a heavy snow event occurs here in the mountains of my beloved North Carolina, I think of her and that moment.
The third one is of how she inadvertently planted the seed that sprouted into my love of auto racing, and NASCAR in particular. It was October 13, 2002, a Sunday night. Mom was flipping through the TV channels, when she landed on NBC’s coverage of the 500 mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jamie McMurray, who was in just his second-ever NASCAR Cup series event, held off 2000 series champion Bobby Labonte to win his first-ever race. I remember watching McMurray doing burnouts on the frontstretch, and looking at mom and asking quizzically, “why’s he spinning out like that, mom?” To which she just smiled and said, “because he’s happy.” With that, she planted a love of motorsports that still runs strong, 20 years on.
There are also the memories that are not pleasant. Seeing her laying on the couch, hardly able to move after chemo treatments zapped her energy. Holding her hand as she lay motionless on a hospital bed some days. Climbing “The Tree,” a winding and hilly stretch of road leading to Boone hospital. Having every eye fixated on me as I walked into class the day after she died, 18 years ago. And the ongoing pain I feel from those days. Some days, I wish it were I instead of her that left this life for the next one, but then she would have had to have been saddled with that pain, and I wouldn’t wish the pain on anyone. Though more days than not, I find myself looking back on those days-and feeling a sense of gratitude. Yes, it was difficult. Yes, it was painful. Yes, it completely changed and re-shaped me. But over the long arc of time, it helped me. It helped me realize that I can overcome anything thrown at me. I can ride the waves and weather the storms and still come out in one piece. And through low times and high alike, I have the memorabilia to show for it-not all of it physical, but all of it are keepsakes of this crazy, beautiful ride I am on. ❤️
I hope this blog finds you well, and I hope you mention in the comments what the knick-knacks, souvenirs and other memorabilia you’ve collected along your journey mean to you, and the impact they have on you!
As always, take care, much love, and may God richly bless you all