It’s something really simple that triggers a memory. Usually, it’s a flowery scent or a song on the radio (I can not hear Fast Car by Tracy Chapman without thinking of one particular summer). But this particular day, it was my husband gently sweeping my little toe with the broom, trying to get me to scoot out of the way. A memory came back so fast, I felt like it was happening at that instant. It lead to another memory and just like that, a whole flood of memories.
These memories took place the summer before my junior year in high school. It was my first trip to Disney World. I have been to Disney since this time, but the action and feeling of the bristles across my pinky toe triggered this barrage of memories.
Looking at the pictures, I realize now that I was a pretty cute girl, but at the time, I was nervous, shy, and uncomfortable in my own skin. That summer was the first time I remember flying in a plane and the first time I realized I could turn heads. After spending the days at Disney, we relaxed at the hotel and swim. One evening, I was sitting pool side reading Grapes of Wrath (or some other Steinbeck masterpiece) while my brothers played Marco Polo in the pool. From my peripheral vision, I could see a guy sitting in the lounge chair close to mine. He was my age-ish (maybe older?) and cute enough with dark hair and a moustache. He asked me what I was reading, engaged me in some unmemorable conversation, then asked me if those boys were my sons. Really? My sons? But he seemed relieved when I told him they were my brothers. I can’t remember what his name was, but he was a firefighter from Boston, or New Jersey or one of those New England cities that seemed so far away and exotic to me. Each night, we sat by the pool and chatted while the boys swam (where were my mom and dad?) The day we checked out of the hotel, my dad came back from the front desk with a note for me from him! We wrote one another several times for the next few months, but then I met my future husband and I completely forgot about him until 9/11.
I wondered about him, and silently prayed for his safety as I watched the horrific images of pain and bravery on that day. I couldn’t remember exactly where he was from, or anything else about him, but I hoped he was not near those Twin Towers. Then I forgot him again. Until Evan swept up my toe. But it actually begins with this memory.
Everyone at Disney World was super friendly and engaging, and people were always working, always making sure the place was clean. On that same trip, we were at an exhibit that seemed to involve stockades (is there such a thing at the World?) An employee was sweeping and I moved to let him sweep where I was standing (I thought I was in his way). He moved too and was sweeping over my shoe. I moved again. He said “I’m trying to sweep you off your feet”! Yes, that happened! Dorky but adorable!