Tuesday, January 9, 2007

How To Remember


Yesterday I was at Camp Page. Camp Page comes with one (1) half-day of spiritual enlightenment, personal progression inventory and one (1) vegetarian lunch. To help you succeed in this half-day adventure is Camp Director Page, 5 year old (TODAY!) rambunctious Seth, 2 year-old electrifying Mery and the bouncing beautiful baby Vivian May.

I spill my worries out on the kitchen counter and Director Page—while chomping zucchini and spooning out interval globs of mashedsomething to the baby—thinks, blinks and nods her head. Meanwhile to insure that my charity never faileth Seth and Mery take turns asking politely for the bits of mango sours in my purse.

“You have the tools to be happy,” says the Director to me, “you’ve just temporarily forgotten. So let’s review…”

Then the phone rings, and with sticky fingers Seth picks up and says “Mommy it’s for you. It’s Courtney.” Only Seth knows how I could be calling on the phone, while at the same time sitting at the kitchen counter without a phone in my hand.

Page picks up and listens for a moment. “I will be there in a second.” It was actually an Errand calling. “Will you read two books to Mery and put her down for a nap? I will be right back.” The Director directs me.

Mery chooses five books instead, and because I rarely get the chance to read books about party dresses and lost cats, I oblige. When the book about the mice with magic rocks ends, Mery gives me the time-old excuse with heavy eyes “I’m not tired Courtney!” and then proceeds to fall asleep before I can ensure that the blankets are securely fastened around her petite little body.

Closing the door to the room I bump into Seth who takes my hand and leads me downstairs. “I have to show you something Conti, but it’s very secret and you can’t tell anyone.” I look seriously at his earnest green eyes and give him an understanding wink. We end up in his room, blue walls covered in dinosaur posters, magazine pages of NBA players and a whole universe of action figure guys littering the wood laminate floor. Seth looks around to make sure nobody—nobody—is in the room with us (can’t take any chances he is one of eight) and slowly opens the bottom drawer in a nightstand. He produces a white paper box, one that a Yankee candle would fit snug in, and gingerly opens the top flap. Out comes a small floral jewelry box wrapped in a white handkerchief and several scraps of off-white material swatches.

“Look Conti” he points to the box in his hand. Removing the layers exposes a yellow Hotwheels car, an old piece of a broken brooch--once painted gold, 3 over sized Chucky Cheese coins (grubby to the touch) and two teeny tiny plastic dolphins. He hands the pink dolphin to me and says “This is for you,” the purple dolphin is also pulled out and put in my out-faced palm “and this one is for Christopher.”

“Wow.” I finger the minuscule prizes as though they were flakes of gold. “Thanks Seth.”

“But remember Conti” Seth says, looking around again, “don’t tell anyone.”

I scooped the dolphins into the pocket on my jacket and zipped it up tight. “Right Captain!”

When I get home I know just the spot for our newest prizes. Chup and I have kept our own collection of little pleasures and delights. Some of it is beach glass from trips to California, winnings from tattered vending machines and tokens found on busy streets in Japan.

Mementos we like to keep to help us remember . . .in case we temporarily forget.