Sour Milk and Stinky Shoes

What may mean absolutely nothing to an unfamiliar observer – may trigger memories in the recesses of the mind in another.

It’s funny how sentiment attaches itself to people, places and things.  What may mean absolutely nothing to an unfamiliar observer – may trigger memories in the recesses of the mind in another.

Take for instance Lilacs.

Whenever I see Lilacs I am instantly brought back to being about eight or nine years old and playing on my land.

I say "land" because my back yard had consisted of approximately five acres and I ran every inch of it with my younger sister.

We were outside all the time, across all weather and seasons.

I can close my eyes and smell the fragrant  fresh scent of the Lilacs that grew around an old chicken shed -- gone fort – and a soon to be refuge to various pets. I remember the purple color of the blooms -- I can hear birds singing.

I can see the paint dripped sign on the door that read “Ree’s Club House” in huge red lettering -- followed by “and Laura’s too” written in a blue smaller print squished in down the botttom of the sign.

I had almost overlooked adding my little sister’s name to the sign – something firstborns are innocently guilty of – unknowingly forgetting to share the stage with their younger siblings.

If I close my eyes, I can hear the spring rain falling on the roof of the shed and I can see through the cage wire window. Outside the shed was a small field of grass and to the left was an old foundation to where a barn once stood.

Straight ahead were three apple trees that I never climbed because I was too afraid of the German shepherd named Sergeant – who was attached to a chain of heavily linked steel nearby.

I can still hear that chain clink and drag across the ground as he attempted to eat us when he saw us run by. That noise made my heart race.

I can almost breath in the earthy smell of the shed and see my little sister standing next to me looking out quietly --smiling peacefully.

All this from a Lilac…

No kidding...

Now, I sit in our minivan. The van has a lot of miles on it. It has stickers on the windows and who knows what under the seats. It has a faint smell of stale milk and soccer cleats.

I feel guilty that I did not keep it cleaner, or kept the stickers off the windows, or the food off the floor. This car has been "lived" in -- it has served us well.

This is probably the vans final few months with the Holloways. She (the van) has made countless road trips and has driven two of my four babies home from the hospital as newborns.

I cannot help but remember our cars growing up. Wagons and Vans and two door sedans... (Lions and tigers and bears - oh my!)

We took countless road trips  to Maine to visit my grandparents in these cars. I can hear my Mom singing songs and telling stories…Our family dogs toe nails would click on the floor as they would circle  around to get comfortable in the back.

I remember sitting next to my Dad in his grey Pinto. I see the little silver horse on the dashboard and I can see the shiny handle on the door. I loved being a co-pilot. I can still hear him laugh when we would ask him (on a rather long venture) if we were lost. My father would respond, "Nah, we just took a short-cut" -- somehow, that made the long ride worth it.

I recall plowing with my Dad in his truck.  Front and center in the passenger seat. Seatbelts were not a requirement and airbags were not a threat. My Dad hit a snow bank and my face hit the dashboard - I remember stitches.

Stitches,  a hospital room, zebra striped lime flavored gum and hugs from Dad.

All this conjured up -- from just sitting quietly in my minivan.


Anyways, I look at my kids and wonder what they will remember when they come across random items that awaken their memories.

I wonder if they will miss the van. Will they find themselves flooded with memories of good times gone by whenever they get a whiff of  sour milk or stinky shoes?

I hope so.

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Laura Archambault Dunn February 29, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Loved your article!! I have a '99 Villager, that is also lived in, served us well and smells of dirty socks. We have grown attached to the "fun bus", she's taxied, carpooled, and taken us to many places safe & sound! But Her racing stripes (duct tape) have just about worn off and we will have to put her out to pasture soon. Thanks for the 139K miles of memories!
Eric Esterling March 02, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I know what you mean. Forsythia immediately take me back decades to images of my dad in our yard when I was a kid.
Annemarie Holloway March 02, 2012 at 08:48 PM
@ Laura: Thank you for reading! I love how your refer to your vehicle as a "her".. We personify ours as well!! Funny how appreciative we have become of the minivan.. She and her "smells" will surely be missed! ;) @ Eric:Although nothing can top the smell of lilacs.. I hate to admit, but -- I occasionally find myself smiling when I catch a whiff of vicks vapor rub or the sore muscle cream called Ben Gay... Those scents Remind me of my grandmother... A rush of fond memories finds me missing her... I wonder what my kiddos will remember!


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