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Tiaras and Trucks

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beating the Heat - RemembeRED

Summer in Michigan is a chain of beaches and lakes and warm, sunny days linking Memorial Day and Labor Day. But there are also those other days, the days baked by a heat that made it impossible to go outside with bare feet, where jelly shoes seemed to create a conduit of fire between tender toes and the oven of blacktop stretched across parking lots.

Even ice cream couldn’t touch that kind of heat.

Heavy.

Humid.

Sticky.

Bees stayed close to their favorite flowers, buzzing lazily in the shade.

That kind of heat made you ache with wanting a pool, wet and refreshing, filled with floating rafts and filmy swim goggles.

We didn’t have a pool.

We had trips to the beach to play in the lake and a makeshift slip and slide stretched across the backyard and plenty of sprinklers that shot water so cold they made us shiver and gasp until the sun immediately scorched our bathing suits dry.

Even running through the sprinklers required too much movement of arms and legs under the sun; we eventually had to retreat inside.

But during the seemingly stifling summer days of my childhood, even our house wasn’t a haven from the sun; my parents hadn’t yet installed the central air conditioning that now keeps their house cool and comfortable in the summer heat. Without any breeze to blow through the open windows, the air inside was as stagnant and exhausting as it was outside.

Except for a single oasis: the approximately fourteen by fourteen square feet that comprised my parents’ bedroom, where a window air-conditioning unit could be turned as cool as you wanted, contrasting so greatly with the air in the hallway or my west-facing bedroom.

Our sleeping bags, mine pink and covered with images of Barbie, were rolled carefully into a corner for nights when the heat seemed too unbearable to sleep in our own, non-air-conditioned rooms.

The problem with the room was that between the king bed and the large dresser, and our sleeping bags, and us, there wasn’t much room for much else.

Thankfully, my parents were resourceful and generous, and their oversized bed became an island of board games. Board games like Sorry and Trouble, with its plastic dome, keeping the die from rolling off the bed to the floor. Later, we graduated to Clue, with its endless possibilities of murderous scenarios.

Those were fun and passed the time and fostered healthy sibling competition, but none of them could usurp Memory as my favorite way to waste a too-hot afternoon.

Organized rows and columns of cards, patterned on one side, matching pictures on the other. I would methodically flip, flip, replace, flip, flip, replace, flip, match, add the match to the stack growing carefully next to me on the bed.

I would play with my brother or a friend or my mom or myself, trying to match all of the cards in as short a time as possible, using fewer flips than I did the game before.

Sorry and Trouble and Chutes and Ladders meant hanging your luck on the roll of a die or the spin of a plastic arrow; Memory depended only on brainpower.

Interestingly, Ryan laughs at me now, because I’m constantly forgetting things absentmindedly, depending on lists and my planner and post-its to keep my life organized.

But back in that air-conditioned room, I didn’t need lists or jotted notes.

I was the Memory queen.

This post is in response to the RemembeRED prompt "Let's Play"
This week, we want you to recall the games you played when you were young.  Did you love Monopoly, Yahtzee, or Uno? Or did you prefer backgammon, Trouble, or Scrabble?  Write a piece that explores one of your memories.

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17 Comments:

  • At May 24, 2011 at 10:35 AM , Anonymous May said...

    I loved this.  Your words took me back through years and across the state to summer days just as you describe.  Same games, same heat, same one room with a/c!  Very vivid.

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 12:12 PM , Anonymous Amy said...

    At least you had an air conditioner! We retreated to the basement for some coolness.

    Great imagery! 

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 2:26 PM , Anonymous Evonne said...

    Summer heat like that is horrible!  Before my parents installed central air, we would hang out in the basement where it was at least tolerable.

    Memory was one of my favorite games growing up.

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 2:33 PM , Anonymous Mama Track said...

    This is awesome! I used to love Memory. It was such a great game. I can't wait until my son is old enough to play. But I'm  pretty sure my "mom brain" will guarantee his victory.

    Loved the description of the heat.I could feel it with you.  Especially the stickiness.

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 5:05 PM , Blogger Kir said...

    Oh my goodness..how I loved this. Could see and feel the heat. Knew the stifling mugginess and how there was one room in your house that offered comfort and coolness...wow!!!! What a great story!!!!!! Xoxo

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 5:08 PM , Anonymous Kir said...

    loved this so much..could see you and feel the mugginess, the stifling heat! What a great memory to share with us...loved that last line and all the imagery! You did again, a fantastic post! Xox

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 5:48 PM , Anonymous Jackie said...

    I think it's funny that as kids our parents didn't have A/C or alot of the things they do now... it's like as soon as all of us kids moved out they got all the good stuff!

    You have a Michigan summer down to a T.... I can't stand the humidity!

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 7:36 PM , Anonymous Nichole said...

    This is so lovely, Angela. I felt the heat...could see you bristling from the cold blast of the sprinkler. This reminded me so much of the humid summers in Maine when I was growing up. 

    Your descriptions are just beautiful. Love this glimpse at your childhood.

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 7:49 PM , Anonymous J. Bruno said...

    You already know I love this.  :-)  The jellies line still makes my feet burn.  :-)

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 8:30 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yet I also loved taking off my shoes and digging my toes into that melty tar patching the black top together.  Ahhhh, childhood!

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 8:32 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks Nichole!  My mom posted something on my facebook about wishing they would have gotten ac earlier, but I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.

    Humidity turns heat into a whole different animal, doesn't it?

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 8:32 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I know; I love the warmth of summer but not that feeling of needing another shower the minute I step out of the house.

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 8:33 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks Kir :)  It's funny how the little things stick with us.  It makes me wonder what my kids will remember when they're older.

    Also?  I am no longer the Memory Queen. 

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 8:34 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I'm not good at it anymore either, and Abbey and I only play with half the box!

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 8:35 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    We would play in our basement, too. 

    The simplicity of Memory is what makes it so great, I think.

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 8:35 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    One summer my dad had a hammock down in our basement!

     
  • At May 24, 2011 at 8:35 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thank you!  I can't imagine the power that a window AC unit sucked up in the humid days of summer.

     

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