One of the things I love about living in the 21st Century is how easy it is to surround yourself with reminders of the 20th Century. Last week I talked about the catchphrases we carry along with us. Now I realize that there are lots of other things we can recapture.
Looking for the toys you lost in the backyard sandbox years ago? Go to eBay. (You should see my collection of Dinky Toys [see photo for example].)
Looking for that Scholastic Books paperback you loved as a child? Go to Alibris. (Not that I’d be willing to pay $50 for The Ghost of Dibble Hollow, but it’s there.)
Looking for a DVD of your favorite television show? Go to Amazon. (Whoever thought McHale’s Navy would be put on DVD?)
Looking for your favorite candy from childhood? Go to OldTimeCandy. (OMG, they finally have Turkish Taffy … I wonder if my teeth can handle it?)
Looking for a lost classmate? Go to Facebook. (One of the girls I had a crush on in my elementary school friended me recently, so I can die happy.)
Is there anything left to miss? Absolutely. In fact, because there’s so much available, it deepens my pangs for those things still missing.
People. I miss late parents, teachers — and increasingly, people my own age. And of course, all the pets we’ve had.
Places. There’s an absolutely wonderful blog on a local newspaper site where people have posted their memories of growing up in Palo Alto — the creeks we played in, the candy stores where we spent our dimes and nickels, the orchards where we played hide-and-seek. It’s like walking down a memory lane that splits off in a dozen different directions.
Food. I miss Baskin-Robbins’ licorice ice cream. It was charcoal gray and turned your tongue that color. I miss Crispy Critters, especially after they added the pink elephants. I miss delicatessens. There was a place in Palo Alto when I was a teen-ager called the Old Country Delicatessen. The portly women behind the counter spoke German and the sandwiches they made were sinfully delicious.
Meeting at the airport. Of all the things terrorists have stolen from us, the one I miss the most is the ability to meet people at airports. Once in college, I was picking up some friends after a spring vacation, and we ran into some other friends who were waiting for a plane arriving just a little while later. Eventually, there were a dozen of us, laughing, chatting, sharing vacation stories. I also used to meet my friend Andrew’s family at the airport as they were changing planes between Honolulu and Seattle. Because I used his mother’s recipe, there was usually an exchange of chocolate chip cookies involved.
So life really isn’t missing: impossible. The problem is that you never know when something is going to be whisked away, never to be seen again. Usually it isn’t whisked so much as it fades, until the day when you realize, hey, whatever happened to …, and it’s not only gone but it’s irretrievable. It’s one thing when we make those decisions ourselves, as when we choose to give away old toys. It’s quite another when time and progress and politics and corporate decisions remove those decisions from us.
That pretty much encapsulates life — learning how to let go of the things that you’d truly like to take with you but can’t.
For everything else, there’s eBay.