Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Speed bumps

It was the speed bumps that started it.

I feel like they must be a great metaphor, but I'm unable to weave it, at least currently.

But as I slowed for the first one, I got that prickly nose feeling. You know the kind that starts somewhere under your eyes? And then shortly after, your throat begins to swell. And you know for sure that you are going to cry.

And it turned into a cry-y weekend. Sometimes it's just like that, I know. And the seemingly randomest things will start it.

Fucking speed bumps.

For years, my parents have wanted them on their street. There are so many children. And people ignore the speed limit and come careening down.

What I've realized about myself, which stands in stark contrast to my parents, is that I don't actually care about humanity. Individuals, I care passionately about. If I love you, I'd go to the ends of the earth for you.

But people as a whole? Not remotely.

I mean, I'd never set out to actively bring down society. But I tried a couple save-the-world-help-humanity jobs. And I just lack save-the-world passion.

My parents, on the other hand, they have this. My dad's whole career was in public health. They joined the Peace Corps right after Kennedy started it. They got sent to Afghanistan, which they loved.

Minot and Duluth to Kabul. And they thought it was so great.

I've got a picture of the King of Afghanistan standing next to Kennedy. And in the next shot, my dad is shaking the King's hand. Kind of extraordinary.

(And king is a weird word if you say it enough. Also, I have trouble with capitalization in this case. To capitalize in both sentences above? Or not?)

This picture is from that time. And while it's an elephant rather than a car, somehow I felt like it fit.

I know it's small on this page, but you can biggen it.

It makes me laugh. My dad is so at ease. This Midwestern boy, all delightedly seated on an elephant's trunk. Betty, on the other hand, slightly alarmed.

But still rising to the occasion, and in trendy glasses and a short skirt, no less.

But the speed bumps.

I was all, Dad, they put in speed bumps! And you've missed them. You'd be so happy to know this. Maybe you do.

And once one minuscule gate opens, through the tiny prickly passageways of your nose, thoughts and memories and feelings and everything else don't hesitate to rush in.

It's like they're just hovering at the edges, waiting for an opening.

Fucking speed bumps.


  1. This post is very touching and the photos are completely awesome.

  2. i love the photos. Your mom is so, what!? hes putting what where!? and Your dad just looks born to sit on an elephant's nose.

  3. what great memories and momentos to be left with though.
    your mom looks like something out of a film... like King Kong, but it's as if she's being lady-napped by that elephant.

    (and "biggen" made me laugh!)

  4. Hllary - Thank you. I am getting really tired of being walloped out of the blue like that. And I love love love these photos.

    Sgt. Social Worker - That is exactly perfect! He DOES look like he's born to sit on an elephant's nose!

    notsojenny - Hahaha! Lady-napped! And yes, lots of good memories.

  5. I love hearing about your memories and I hope it is helping you to write about them! Hugs to you!!

  6. Loved this post (and the photos)! Those feelings will continue to creep in... why must memories be so vivid! So deeply rooted in smells and sights and sounds? It makes your heart break a little bit for the lack of being able to share the memory with that person, but then I think it helps to heal the heart a little bit more for the happiness of the memory.

    For me, it's Rod Stewart, craft fairs, meatloaf, warm laundry fresh out of the dryer and oh so many more things.

  7. Beautiful. I know you know this - your family, your parents are amazing. Thinking of you - for all the big and small pieces of life which trigger emotion and memories.

  8. As always, hugs.

    And I hope the walloping becomes less of a wallop, over time (soon), and more of a gentle tap on the shoulder.

  9. My grandmother passed away a couple of weeks ago. It's still hard to write that. I know my mom feels it more keenly than I do, but we were all VERY close to her and her death was a surprise. I had a moment the other day driving to my parents house when I saw a streetname she used to mispronounce and felt that same tickle. I'm still in shock that she's gone... and I hate it when I remember that she is. You're doing the right thing though, the memories will last forever.

  10. The pictures are incredible - thank you for sharing them. I think at some point, the things that bring back washes of memories will be welcome. They'll feel more like a hug, and a reminder from your Dad, that he's still around and involved in your lives. I have to believe that the memories come back for a reason, and that it isn't completely random. And thank you for sharing the memories with us.

  11. *hugs*

    I too have a hard time caring about the abstraction that is "humanity." Individuals I find it very easy to care about... but the abstraction, not so much. You can't reach out and hug a concept.

  12. It's always hard when good memories open the way for painful reminders. It's something that gets better with time, but even then, it's never a skill that can be mastered: dealing with grief. Its an eternal battle. But these pictures are beautiful and help bring some sunshine to recent clouds. Hugs and happy thoughts for you. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Oh, I love the pictures! Thank you so much for sharing them.

    Also: goddamn fucking speed bumps.

  14. Jules - Thank you. It does feel helpful to write. Hugs to you!

    swaaaan - Yes, absolutely - so deeply rooted in smells and sight and sounds. It's quite extraordinary how strong they are, and it does make your heart break a little every time.

    HKW - Oh, thanks. I think they are. Hugs to you.

    Dagny - Thank you, my sweet. A gentle tap would be nice.

    jo - I'm so sorry. That is very hard. It was terrible when my grandmother died. None of us were prepared. All the best to you and your mom.

    Susan - I will be happy when that starts to happen. And I believe you're right - it's for a reason, and not totally random. Just seems that way sometimes.

    VVK - Hugs, my friend. And I'm glad to hear you are the same way. I've gotten odd responses from friends when I've said it before.

    Mb - I believe that's true - how to master dealing with grief? Especially when it's so sneaky? Hugs to you, too.

    A.S. - I love them, too! Thank you so much for the added emphasis with your profanity! Yes!

  15. My parents have asked me to read the tribute post I wrote to my late grandfather, who also passed recently, at the family memorial service this weekend. I am hoping to avoid and speed bump moments in the process myself.

    I also am a fan of "biggen."

    Biggened hugs. :)


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