Scattered Childhood memories

I liked the smell of shoe wax in our hallway. Everyone waxed their shoes and I had learned to do it and enjoyed the particular sharp scent. I also liked putting shoes in order, like when guests came and they were on top of each other and disheveled, I would rearrange them and make them look neat. It was a thing to do; I was pretty bored at that age. My mom told me there is a saying in Farsi where if your shoes land on top of each other on their own as you take them off, that means you are going on a journey. I liked the idea of traveling and we generally did travel a lot. So when my shoes didn’t land on top of each other, I would do it myself. Sometimes, I did that to all shoes, which made everyone laugh. “Guess we are going on a trip!” I’d say, amused with wishful thinking.
My favorite moments were the nights before a trip, when we had a time limit to pack and get everything ready. Our trips were usually road trips to the Caspian Sea, where the beach was. So the trips were most often in the summer when Northern Tehran was humid and hot. That’s the only thing I didn’t enjoy, the extreme humidity. But I loved packing. I could never sleep the night before being filled with too much excitement. I’d still be awake at dawn, and the skies would be dark from our bedroom window, and a certain sadness would linger over the buildings from afar.
I liked that we were all together- my family and first and second cousins. We were inseparable. When we traveled, we always went together. We played card games and “esm va famil” (Name and family) where you pick a letter and everyone has to come up with names, last names, foods, cars, body parts, flowers, etc that started with that letter. Whoever finished first would say “Stop!” and then would read it all out loud.
I just remember being really happy, really excited. I loved when we all would get together in my cousin’s beach house and just laugh uncontrollably. That happens, when you spend so much time together and when you are all there to have fun, there are so many silly little moments of laughter. And the best part is, you can repeat them by retelling the story over and over, and then you laugh even harder.
But I hated returning home. I hated the last nights, where everyone naturally became quiet because we knew we’d have to go back home and get back to routines. My younger cousins and I didn’t want to go back to school and exams. And our parents probably didn’t want to go back to work. I learned nostalgia at a young age- I didn’t know it obviously, but that feeling continued returning over the years as people came into my life and left and things changed and weren’t the same, and then I learned about nostalgia in books and movies…and then I realized I already knew what it was. I never dealt with it either. I either got sick in the car on the way home, or later when I was older, I buried it in my throat and it hurt and sometimes if I were lucky and alone, cried it out. Even then, it still lingered, that ugly, nasty feeling of emptiness, of looking around a room and seeing it missing something, someone.
I like my childhood memories. They taught me to laugh and they were probably the happiest that I have ever been because I was satisfied with what I had. It was only later, when I lost things and gained more, that I learned of dissatisfaction and began building fantasies so grandeur that I lost the sense of natural happiness and contentment that I had once known so well.

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