good times, bad times

One of the weird things I noticed the other day about missing my dad is that my life is pretty good.

Lemme ‘splain.

I have this dog. She’s a pug. Never thought I’d ever like a little dog, but this snorting, snarfling, pudgy, little creature had wiggles and sneezed her way into my heart. I want to send my dad her funny pictures and laugh with him at her odd amusing ways. When I took pictures of her at my friends St. Patrick’s day party, I thought about how hard he would have laughed at her picture with the Buddha statue. We would have joked about the Zen of Pugs.

10994333_1052236391458611_2274175064423649730_nAfter a number of years of working towards a career goal, I have a job that I love. When I wake up in the morning, I actually look forward to going to work. I consider myself lucky. Earlier today, I was making up stories of what I’d tell my younger self. I wanted to tell her to listen to your dad. He had some things that made a lot of sense – now listen to them! He would be so proud of me, and so terribly happy to know that I am so enjoying my life. 11081419_10205394018044244_3255132250463810909_nWhen I got my first cell phone, my dad and I talked every day. It was New Technology and it enabled us to be connected like we never could before. It was so cool! When the iPhone first came out, all I could think about was how excited he would have been playing with one. Where I work, we have dictation computers for the doctors. When I first encountered these a few years ago, I remembered my dad struggling with early voice-to-text software. He knew it had promise, but it wasn’t at a usable point then.

It’s an odd feeling missing someone and being terribly sad that they are gone, while at the same time feeling satisfied and happy with a wonderful life that you want to tell them all about.

 

Christmas Jew

We usually had about a month off school for Winter break when I was a kid. I imagine my mom got pretty tired of me after a while and was probably relieved when she could ship me off to stay with my pop for a week or two.

We never had a tree at my dad’s place, and usually I spent those holidays with him and my paternal grandparents in Brooklyn. If there was overlap in dates, we celebrated Hanukkah. I got yummy melty chocolately gold coins, scarfed grandma’s homemade matzoh ball soup and stuffed myself on latkes.

One of my favorite things to do during those holiday visits was to get in the car with pop to go look at the decorated houses. We would drive up one street and down the next, commenting and oohing and ahhing at the lovely, sparkly Christmasy homes.

It never occurred to me what a Jew from Brooklyn felt about these ecstatic displays. I am Jewish by birth, but not so much by practice, and at my mom’s we had a big Christmas tree and went caroling each year. My dad, however, was raised in a fairly traditional (non-Orthodox) Jewish household.

During those tours he and I did through the neighborhoods, I wonder if he felt like an outsider, peering in to someone else’s philosophy, stealing visions of another’s ritual?

My memory is that he loved the Christmas lights as much as I did. The lit-up houses were wondrous and sentimental, festive and enchanting. We were two kids with big eyes thrilled at the beautiful spectacle.

honeysuckle

Why is it that certain smells evoke specific memories? Perhaps I should ask, “how,” because I know there is a very scientific explanation for this phenomenon.

It is Spring and lots of allergins are blooming, and oh how wonderful they smell as my sinuses close up…. Last night as I rode home from my Vintage Motorcycle weekly dinner meetup, I was caught in a lovely fog of a familiar scent: the honeysuckle.

Apparently, we have our own kind here: Lonicera arizonica (go figure). And it smells just like the honeysuckle I grew up with in southern Illinois, which oddly enough is actually Japanese Honeysuckle : Lonicera japonica.

I’m not a botanist, and didn’t pay much attention in plant biology class, but I know what I liked. My favorite flower is the daffodil. But a close runner-up is honeysuckle. When I was a kid I would pick the flowers, nip off the base and suck the sweet nectar out. They aren’t called “honey suckle” because they are bitter and nasty.
They only bloomed for about two months in the summer, so it was a special treat.

The fragrance was especially poignant at night. Those were nights filled with catching fireflies and long walks with my best friend, Hoka. He was a Shepherd mix and was one year older than me.

I had a pretty idlyic childhood in a lot of ways. It was great to grow up away from cities, with the enveloping comfort of the forest and friends made of frogs and turtles and birds.

Riding my motorcycle last night evoked memories of those simple days. I seem to write about those days a lot. A friend once told me that the more keys on your keychain you have, the more complicated your life is. I have too many keys right now. I need more daffodils and honeysuckle and fireflies in my life.