If I close my eyes and whisper the magic words that only my brain can decipher, I can access the storage file that holds each special memory that still exists for a synapses second. Scents, sounds, sights swirl around my brain and for a moment in time, I am there.
The crunching of the leaves. Last year’s winter coat already out and protecting me from the drop in temperature even though the sleeves are too short to cover the growth spurt I just had. Ponytail swinging back and forth behind me as I take a small detour from my regular route of cutting through the town square. For once, I’m alone.
Perhaps with no friends to distract me, I sensed things differently. Crisp, cold air, mixed with the decomposition of hundreds of leaves; further enhanced by aged, wet canvas stretched tightly over my head and the musky scented animals who have arrived early for judging; fair food vendors as they heated up their wares. All these scents converge, intermingle, blend until they form one essence in my undefined memory banks…Fair.
There are a million and one snapshots of my hometown fair floating in books, photo albums and cyber space. There are probably less than that in my head, yet it is that one in particular that still pops up whenever I think of our fair. It is the memory that encapsulates my childhood, yet serves as the walkway into the rest of my life as well. As I look back, I wonder what it was about that one day that deserved a special drawer in my memory. What was going on in my life that logged “that day” so strongly? Was my mother working longer hours than normal? Was it after dad’s first heart attack? Was it because my big brother had left for college? I’ll probably never know, nor does it matter.
The thread of the fair runs throughout my life and my memories. Holding my daddy’s hand amid towering giants, crying when my mom insisted on taking me on the Ferris wheel, riding the Round-up after traveling Europe and promising myself I would never be afraid of a ride again (I still am though), marching in the clown band, singing in my high school choir, wearing my future husband’s Hillsdale coat (and loving all the teasing that went with it since we were from rival schools), bringing my college boyfriend to the fair the first year after my daddy died, so I could keep mom being totally alone, bringing friends home from the big city, watching my children anticipate the fair just like I did, meeting up with my brother and his family and how excited my kids got over a roll of quaters, my fear of letting my children walk the fair for the first time without me, performing with my mother on center stage, and walking with her in a wheelchair as she went to her last fair. Fair memories that encompass my life.
This year I will create another memory with my grandchildren. All six of them are coming home, and that is what our fair is all about…pony rides, food, families, friends, home and memories. And one memory in particular, a little girl kicking leaves as she walks home through the animal barns on a cold far day. Fair days are special memories.