In the middle of this pandemic, I’ve had a lot of time to think about life and the state of my mind. I’ve been social-distancing at home for more than six weeks now. With the exception of the man I love and the grocery store, I’ve resorted to face time for my social interactions. I feel like the last two weeks (although days seem to morph into each other so I can’t be sure), a lot of powerful memories have been coming to the surface.
If I close my eyes, I’m at Universal Studios. I can smell the air and feel the cobblestones under my feet in Hogsmeade. I can taste the English salad with the grapes, and a side of butterbeer. I can reach out and touch the walls to the Transformer Ride and feel my body being jerked around as BumbleBee saves our car from crashing to the ground. I can smell and see every moment of this place. If I could be there right now, I would.
It’s not limited to theme parks, it’s other memories too. I can remember being fourteen or fifteen and leaving campus with my friends. We would walk to the local German Bakery. A cowbell rings as it smacks against the door when we step in. The air is sugar-sweet, and the countertops are nearly as tall as we are. The woman behind the counter had a thick accent and a warm smile. She always seemed so happy we were there.
My family owned a new and used video game store for many years. The feeling of walking into this home away from home. A place littered with memories. Late nights of climbing ladders and painting a giant mural along one wall. The smell of old games. Yes, vintage games have a specific smell. Like nerd and dust and Cheetos all wrapped with into a bouquet.
Middletown. My bar had a *very* specific aroma and feel about it. But what stands out the most is after close. Cleaning up and counting money. Restalking the shelves and quarter machines. The quiet after the storm of people on a Saturday night. Locking up and walking to the beach after. Opening a cold beer on the pier and watching the night. I would sit there for hours sometimes. Mostly alone, on occasion with friends. Those late nights conversations are where I made some of the most significant decisions in my life.
My first apartment. It was tilted and triggered my vertigo in those early days. The light switches would spark at me. Only half of the stove worked, and the oven was about a hundred degrees incorrect. Ghost kitty wrapping her tail around my ankle and scaring the ever-living crap out of me. The feeling of being really small. Feeling strong and while not quite confident yet, like I was going to be okay.
Going to the most rinky-dink wax museum ever with my sister. There was a moment where I needed to walk over a bridge, and the water smelled the Pirates of the Caribean ride. I was struggling, and she was coaxing me across. Just as I finished walking over, she saw a Chucky wax figure and lost it. As sisters, we take turns doing the handholding. But that moment, with the fog machine going and recycled air blowing everywhere. That one stands out.
I once was in vegas five days shy of earning myself Nevada Citizenship status. My father and I attended a conference there and held up in a hotel room after, giving our manuscript one final pass after receiving several full requests. Shortly after, we had to be in Vegas for a bowling tournament, and so somehow, this decision made sense at the time.
In fact, these days, I’ve been re-reading and editing that first novel again. Giving it another pass over before considering what to do with it. We had so much interest in it, but the writing just wasn’t quite there. Would that kind of interest still be there if the manuscript was stepped up a level or three? I know I’m a far better writer now. I suppose only time will tell on this front.
Mostly, it’s Universal Studios that’s been on my mind though. I want to be there right now more than just about anywhere else I can think of. Silly, I know. But I have so many good memories attached. If I could magic myself somewhere in these anxiety-riddled days, that’s where I want to be.