Saturday, May 9, 2009

Strawberry Soda

I don’t have very many fond memories of my mom. I’m sure they’re there, but perhaps I’ve blocked them all out for some unknown reason. On occasion, though, something will happen and I’m instantly teleported back to that place in my childhood where innocence prevents me from knowing anything was off about my life, where life is simple and happy, and where my mother is the most perfectly beautiful person on the planet.
As I was checking out at the grocery store, I spotted a bottle of strawberry soda in the refrigerator by the register. I just had to have it, so I purchased it without a second thought. After loading my mountain of groceries into the van, I opened the bottle. The sweet scent of fake strawberry wafted its way through my front seat and straight to my nose almost as soon as the “whoosh” of the bottle being opened was done. It’s amazing what those olfactory senses can do to our brains.
Instantly, I was four years old again and with my mother doing one of my favorite things with her.We were in the local Laundromat. Each week, we’d load all of our clothes into her wheeled laundry basket and trek off to get them cleaned. It was about a six block walk, but I never minded. I’d walk along beside her talking about whatever came into my silly little head, and she’d nod as if she were interested in every word I had to say. I can still hear the rattling of the metal laundry basket along the concrete as we walked.
When we got there, she’d go to her favorite washer and start sorting and loading clothes in. Her washer was in the back of the facility, up on the “second floor” as I liked to call it. Really, there were just two steps that led to a second level, but I loved bouncing up and down those stairs while she went about her work. I’d also go to the vending machine and inhale for as long as I could. I loved the smell of the fabric softener in the machines.
Once she was finally done with the loading of the washers, she’d come over to me with a smile and offer me some coins for the soda machine. She didn’t have a penny to her name, so this was big. It wasn’t something I took for granted, but instead it was something I savored and looked forward to. Without fail, I’d choose a strawberry soda. I’d sit in one of those hard plastic chairs sipping it proudly. Since we always went at the same time of the same day of every week, there was often a familiar crowd of elderly women there with us. Often, one of them would give me more coins to get something to eat. Usually I chose a twinkie or a chocolate bar. Nothing compared to the sweet flavor of that strawberry soda, though. Nothing.
After all was said and done, I’d go an bury my nose in the freshly scented towels while my mom folded clothes. They were so warm and I remember wanting to just wrap up in them. I knew I couldn’t right then, but I remember knowing that all was well with the world. It felt so good!
Sometimes, we’d go to the pizza store next to the Laundromat and get a dinner. Again, I had to sit “upstairs”. Again, it was really only two stairs. I didn’t care. I felt so big and so special when we got to do this. If it was a really great day, I’d even get a couple of coins for the juke box. I always chose the same two songs; “Smokin’ In The Boys’ Room” and “Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun”. Then, I’d sit on a high stool at the counter while I watched them toss the pizza dough in the air and put it in the oven using a giant wooden spoon. Just like the soda, I savored every bite of a warm, fresh mushroom pizza. It was perfection.
Finally, we’d start our walk home. Again, there would be the loud rattling of the metal laundry basket on the concrete and the sound of my tiny voice going a mile a minute talking about nothing at all. And there would be my mom walking beside me and smiling down on me like I was the most precious thing in the whole world. She hung on my every word.
After my bottle of soda was gone, I was right back here where I am today. Back to reality. Back to being a grown-up with very few happy memories of my mother. But, thanks to one bottle of strawberry soda, that one memory is once again fresh in my mind.


Dawn said...

That's so sweet! Now I have all these memories of being at your mom's house during one summer. We did crafts, did Book It and went to the library a lot, and also played a lot of I spy!

AimeeTheSuperMom said...

Yes we did, didn't we? Remember Huckle Buckle Beanstalk?

sjmiller said...

Oh my gosh, Aimee! You almost made me cry! Such a sweet story of your happy memories. That is a story your children need to have in their family history books! I'm sorry you don't have many happy memories.