A slice of nostalgia

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers. Head over there for information and links to more Slicing! 

We lie down and settle in. The kids are excited to see what happens next in Harry Potter. While we wait for my husband to come in to start reading, I take the opportunity to practice mindfulness with my kids.  I remind them about taking a moment to simply be. We don’t have a singing bowl, which is what I use in my classroom, but the fan is on, making a low hum. So, I tell them to close their eyes and listen to the fan. I suggest finding a pattern in the noise.

We listen. It’s a modern fan – tall and white. It is oscillating only slightly, the way new fans seem to do and I hear the noise shift just a bit as it moves from side to side. But even though the sound is less than the old fashion oscillating fans’, it is there. I can feel a memory coming into focus from that sound. I can’t grasp the specifics, maybe because I know the sound of the oscillating was in more than one part of my childhood. I want to hold this nostalgia and turn the focus ring to see it more clearly.

Is it in the front room at my grandma’s house, where I fell asleep on a bed a little too high, with the windows open, to the sound of the oscillating fan? 

Is it the comfortable beach house bedroom, where we’d flop after a long beach day and boardwalk night, to the sound of the fan and the ocean waves in the distance? 

Maybe it is just an in general memory – of hot summer nights and the breeze on and off again, on and off again. I remember the feeling of just wishing the breeze would stay on me, getting so annoyed when the fan was pointing somewhere else.

I try to think of how to describe the sound of an oscillating fan and it feels like an odd, almost boring creative writing exercise… White noise, louder, softer, louder, softer, rhythmic movement of the hush of a fan. Sometimes too loud, sometimes just right. Later I will google this, hoping to find someone else describing it. I will instead find you tube clips of the sound, and apps to mimic the summer sound. I will be reminded that there is more buzz in an oscillating fan than in the fan that is in my room these days. But for now, the memory is still unfocused, leaving me with a general feeling of nostalgia.

Our moment of mindfulness is over – the kids are working on their stamina with this. I try to explain my nostalgia to my children. I tell them about my fan memories, and realize that sentimentality is an odd thing to try to describe. Later I muse on this with them. I tell them that life is full of ordinary moments, like listening to a fan as you fall asleep. But that one day they will be grown up and they will hear something, see something, smell something and it will bring them back. They will feel happy and sad, they will want to go back in time and freeze it. They will want to be mindful. They will want to explain their nostalgia to their children. They listen and then run away to play, and I am left wondering for which part of their childhood will they feel most nostalgic, and can I please freeze time?

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10 thoughts on “A slice of nostalgia

  1. This is such a beautiful slice. Your description of your memory at the beach house had me right there, I could see the boardwalk, hear the waves. Thank you for the little bit of summer in my winter. 🙂

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      I love that smell too – such nostalgia. … Smell of a popgun too… So many smells and sights and sounds that I wish I could gather whenever I wanted. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

  2. You slice took me back to hot summer nights under the tin roof of the farm house. The only sound was the fan and the frogs in the swamp.

    1. Hi Lori –
      Your comment brought me back to a dance camp I went to as a child… There was a barn that we used when we couldn’t be outside… and the sound on that tin roof was just so cozy!

  3. Many things to enjoy here. The great practice with your kids of being mindful and building stamina for it. The memories that you described of the oscillating fan. Delightful

  4. This entire post mesmerizing but the last paragraph grabs me because there are so many times when I want to go back in time and freeze it. All from a memory of a sound, a smell, a song. Absolutely beautiful!

    1. Hi Leigh Anne – Don’t you wish you could just hit a button and go back to a time… a sound, a memory…. Time is a crazy thing. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

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